Posts Tagged ‘poker taxes’

EU Court sides with Poker’s Pier Paolo Fabretti in Italian Tax Case

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Italian poker pros recently got some favorable news after the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled that Italy can’t unfairly tax players for winnings earned in other EU countries.

The Italian government has a weird policy in place whereby they don’t take income taxes from poker winnings earned in nationally licensed, land-based casinos. However, they do levy income tax on money won in live poker tournaments outside the country.

PokerStars pro Pier Paolo Fabretti had become somewhat of the posterboy behind this policy. The Provincial Tax Commission of Rome claimed that Fabretti owed taxes on the €52,000 prize that he scooped for winning the 2009 IPT Nova Gorica High Roller in Slovenia. Rome’s Tax Commission also looked into his other tournament prizes over the years and required taxes on these too.

Roman poker pro Cristiano Blanco was another player whom the Commission was targeting. Blanco has over $835k in live tourney winnings, including €380,000 ($498k) that he picked up for finishing second at the 2007 EPT Dortmund (Germany) Main Event.

The CJEU’s reasoning for backing the poker players is that Italy’s policy of exempting domestic poker winnings and taxing foreign earnings restricts freedom of trade. Going further, poker pros would be less likely to play in other EU countries knowing that they not only incur travel costs but also extra taxes.

Another point that the CJEU made is that there’s no legitimate reason for the biased poker taxes because this policy doesn’t protect consumers nor prevent crime. Given that the CJEU sided with Blanco and Fabretti in this case, it will be interesting to see if any similar poker tax cases are brought to the EU in the near future.

Johnny Lodden discusses Bleak Norwegian Poker Situation

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Johnny Lodden has earned countless millions in live and online poker cash games. Plus he’s added another $1,250,499 in live tournaments. But with the current poker situation in Norway, even Lodden is having a hard time.

According to him, the biggest problems facing Norwegian poker are the mafia, ridiculously-high taxes, and live games being illegal. He recently addressed these problems in an interview with PokerListings.

Lodden addressed both the mafia and illegal live poker by saying, “We play online and we do also get to play live poker in illegal clubs. Nowadays it is really hard with the legislation and the mafia coming in and taking over some of the clubs in Norway.”

“Now we have started up a new club which is really nice, but of course we don’t have as many players as before. When they know the mafia might be involved and they have families they don’t want to play anymore and risk anything.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if the current situation will change any time soon. Norway’s favored political party (Hoyre) isn’t in favor of poker, which means they’re unlikely to change the illegal status of live games. Based on this, Lodden doesn’t think Norwegian poker players have much to look forward to at this point.

“We have everything against us. It is annoying to pay so much tax (half of winnings), but I do not mind paying my taxes since I live in a country where everyone pay taxes, that is how it is. However, I would like a tax system where you pay less tax on your winnings and where you can tell the authorities that you did not win anything this year so you cannot pay taxes.”

While things are tough for Norway’s poker players in general, at least Lodden has a deal with PokerStars to fall back on. And he’ll be representing the world’s largest online poker site this year at the 2013 WSOP. Lodden is hoping to win his first career WSOP gold bracelet.

Sweden’s Tax Authority cracking down on Poker Pros

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Skatteverket, which is Sweden’s tax authority, has suddenly taken a keen interest in their country’s poker players. Going further, the group is demanding that professional grinders pay taxes on money made “outside the European Economic Area” between the years of 2008 and 2011. The beginning of the letter sent to suspected pro players reads as follows:

(We have) obtained information that you have played poker in one or more Internet sites based outside the European Economic Area (EEA) for the period 2008-2011. Please submit bank statements or similar documents from any internet site where you had the bankroll for the period 2008-2011.

The letter eventually names specific sites like Absolute Poker, Full Tilt, Bodog and PokerStars as places where grinders might have played. Furthermore, Skatteverket asks that players reveal their poker room screen names, bank statements, and online banking (Moneybookers, NETeller, PayPal) information so the matter can be investigated more thoroughly.

The back taxes announcement and investigations come on the heels of raids that have been conducted on Swedish poker players’ homes. An unidentified pro player had his laptop taken for evidence and was told that he raised suspicion after online tournament-tracking websites were checked.

As you can see, it’s definitely not good that Skatteverket is monitoring poker players so closely. And what’s particularly bad is that the tax authority isn’t exactly known for dealing with poker taxes in a rational way. They used to judge taxes based on individual hands; however, they’ve since changed this to wins/losses on a per-site basis. But even this isn’t ideal because a grinder could win $30,000 on one site, lose $20,000 on another, and still be paying taxes on the $30k in winnings on the first site.

We hope that Swedish grinders can make it through this tough back taxes debacle without too many headaches.