Indian cricketers angry over $1.5m tax bouncer
INDIA’S cricket tour of Australia erupted in controversy last night as its players learned they would be slugged $1.5 million by the Australian Taxation Office.
Sources said the tax grab had angered India’s superstars, including Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Their match payments and tour fees are not taxed in India, where they are treated by financial authorities as amateurs.
The tax slug is further fuel for a potentially explosive series against Australia. The MCG is expected to be packed next Wednesday for the start of the Boxing Day Test.
Indian and Australian players clashed several times during a one-day series on the subcontinent in October, when all-rounder Andrew Symonds was labelled “monkey man” by the crowds.
India’s newfound confidence springs from its Twenty20 World Cup success this year. The Board of Cricket Control of India rewarded its stars with more than $2 million in bonuses.
Among other gifts, a Porsche 911 was handed to team hero Yuvraj Singh as a personal present from Vice-President Lalit Modi. The Indians have not been taxed on previous tours. But a change in Australian laws since they were last here in 2003-04 has left the tourists flabbergasted.
Since July 2004, all sportspeople and entertainers who work in Australia have had to pay tax.
The BCCI tried to get an exemption, and is still investigating ways around the red tape. India’s media manager, Dr M.K. Shridhar, last night confirmed the BBCI was investigating the tax matter.
“This taxation issue is being handled by our office in Bombay,” he said. “We are taking the position of what our own tax consultants at the BCCI say.
“Cricket Australia is helping, and they will work together and come back to us with a solution. Then I am not very sure if it will still apply.”
India’s stars are treated like royalty at home, and are some of cricket’s wealthiest players. Tendulkar alone is said to be worth millions. The Indians are taxed only on sponsorship earnings in their home country.
In Australia, it is believed they will forfeit about $500,000 from the Test series, and $1 million from the one-day series and the one-off Twenty20 clash at the MCG, in tax.
Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said the board’s memorandum of understanding meant the Indians had to follow Australian laws.
“When you are in Australia, the Australian tax law applies,” he said.
The tourists will play four Tests against Australia, beginning on Boxing Day at the MCG, a Twenty20 match, and up to 11 one-day internationals before heading home in March.