Barcelona stars Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Piqué targeted by Spanish Exchequer

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Revenue agency hones in on Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, David Villa and Fernando Llorente

Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández y Andrés Iniesta atienden en una rueda de prensa | Archivo

30 de octubre de 2014 (00:15 CET)

A number of Spanish football starts have fallen foul of the country's Exchequer. As Diario Gol exclusively reported, Spain's tax agency has launched a crackdown on alleged tax evasion with ramifications in La Liga, the top tier of professional soccer.

And so, Ministerio de Hacienda, the Ministry of the Exchequer, has targeted Barça stars Xavi Hernández, Gerard Piqué and Andrés Iniesta. The agency has gone as far as checking the tax bills of ex-Barça captain Carles Puyol, now retired.

Elsewhere, Exchequer officials knocked the door at Sergio Ramos's pad and paid an unexpected visit to Fernando Llorente and the former Real midfielder Míchel Salgado.

This latest round of inspections comes on the back of earlier checks carried out in March. Then, inspectors went through tax bills paid by Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso (Bayern Munich), and painstakingly examined the excise receipts of Samuel Eto'o, David Villa and current Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Tougher action was taken with the Argentinian maestro Leo Messi. The FC Barcelona star will soon take the dock to contest charges of tax evasion. The legal battle is part of a wider push to boost tax receipts in austerity-hit Spain.

Players' 15% dilemma

As reported before by Diario Gol, players signed for Spanish are profiting from a loophole. As the law states, professional players bag 15% of their yearly wages as image rights. This income source is taxed at 20% to 25% under Spain's equivalent to Corporation Tax. Any other income generators -such as players' wages- are taxed at pre-set income tax rates, that is, 52% in Madrid and 56% in Catalonia.

In the circumstances, tax officials estimate that players dodge part of their tax liabilities by claiming image rights. Dwindling tax revenues in Spain is a factor that has also come into play, leading officials to stay on the heels of soccer players.

Spanish Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro himself has spearheaded a major crackdown. He has instructed Ministry mandarins to set sights on Iniesta, Xavi, Casillas and suchlikes.

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