Rooney fails to win apology over tax story

 

The Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has failed in an attempt to force an apology over claims that he is paying only 2 per cent tax on some of his earnings.

Rooney complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) over the accuracy of a story published by The Sunday Times in January describing attempts by players to avoid tax and headlined: "Top footballers dodge millions in income tax: Rooney pays 2% on some earnings."

The story reflected the way that tax inspectors are targeting some of the Premier League's highest-paid footballers over controversial tax arrangements that could be costing the Treasury more than £100m in tax liabilities.

The trend is for payments to be poured into player-controlled companies under the guise of "image rights" earnings. The tax rates on money taken out of those companies can be as low as 2 per cent.

Among those to have recruited top tax advisers to devise such schemes are Rooney, Gareth Barry at Manchester City and Theo Walcott at Arsenal.

The article claimed that 25-year-old Rooney – who signed a new £200,000-a-week United deal last October after suggesting his team-mates were not good enough – had saved nearly £600,000 by taking £1.6m in loans rather than as income over a two-year period. Rooney said the headline did not take into account that his company was subject to corporation tax of 28 per cent and argued that it would not be possible for any person to pay tax of 2 per cent on their earnings. The footballer also complained that the article failed to mention he had paid the loan back the following year.

The PCC dismissed Rooney's complaint. Stephen Abell, director of the PCC, said: "The commission's case law consistently makes clear that headlines – which are by their nature reductive – need to be read alongside the accompanying article. Although the PCC has upheld complaints in the past where there has been too great a disparity between the headline and the text of the article, this was not a feature on this occasion. As a result, the complaint was not upheld."

HM Revenue and Customs confirmed that under the complex tax structures often surrounding player-controlled image rights companies do allow those players legally to avoid paying the 50 per cent top rate of income tax on their earnings. Personal loans offered by limited companies – a perfectly legal tax mitigation device – do constitute a benefit in kind and thus incur a rate of only 2 per cent on the total sum of the loan.

This has been one of several battles between players and Revenue and Customs. Last October, The Independent revealed that some 75 per cent of Premier League clubs are now using a system known as employer-financed retirement-benefit schemes to allow players to avoid up to 50 per cent of income tax. This was one of the ways they circumvented the problem of losing out to clubs from the rest of Europe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions