F1 tax row clouds Indian GP

Monza: McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has played down fears that a tax wrangle could jeopardise next month`s inaugural Indian Formula One Grand Prix.

The Briton, who is chairman of the teams` association FOTA, said Indian tax law posed a problem but rejected speculation that it could be serious enough to prevent the teams travelling to Delhi for the Oct. 30 race.

"I`m sure we will be in India racing but it`s an issue that we`ve got to get resolved," he told Reuters at the Italian Grand Prix. "It`s not resolved at the moment. It needs to be resolved, it`s not straightforward.

"The teams are working together and we need to find a way in which the teams can feel confident that they are able to leave with their passports at the end of it (the race)," he smiled.

The 12 teams are concerned that they and their drivers could be hit by hefty tax demands, potentially on 1/19th of their incomes because of India being one of 19 races.

"Normally the bigger threat is to the driver than to the teams," said Whitmarsh. "But there are some debates about whether 1/19th of revenues are taxable in India."

India exempted the cricket World Cup from income tax earlier in the year, however.

The government also granted tax exemption on income to residents and non-residents alike gained from international sporting events in India in 2006, when the country hosted the IIC Champions Trophy cricket tournament.

Bureau Report

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