PokerStars Ambassador Neymar Jr. Ordered to Pay Fine for Outstanding Taxes

January 28th, 2016 | by Brian Corlisse
Neymar tax evasion Brazil PokerStars

Neymar Jr. isn’t only facing the scrutiny of soccer referees on the pitch, but also government officials in his home country of Brazil on suspicions of tax evasion. (Image: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Team PokerStars superstar athlete Neymar Jr. is by now as well known as the frontman for the online giant as he is for his skills on the soccer field. The 23 year old pro has made a fortune playing in his native Brazil and now with FC Barcelona in the Spanish league La Liga.

But back home, authorities say he owes them many millions in unpaid taxes.

Brazilian officials have also now levied a fine that totals almost $113,000 against the soccer icon, but his representatives say it’s unfounded.

Neymar’s father, who managed the star’s finances until 2010, claim the penalty relates to a tax dispute between 2007 and 2008. Neymar plans to appeal the fine and has asserted he’s done no wrong.

Tax Return

Neymar is being accused by the motherland of reducing his total tax burden by moving money around to entities he or his family control.

The primary company in question is NR Sports. The Brazilian government alleges millions of reals (Brazil’s currency) belonging to Neymar Jr. were transferred to NR Sports, but Neymar’s eponymous father is trying to claim that since those payments were made to the company and not his son directly, it shouldn’t count as personal income.

Anyone who’s ever filed his or her own taxes knows Neymar Sr.’s tax strategy doesn’t have much of a chance of being accepted, but people never stop trying it around the world.

Brazil has frozen over $46 million of Neymar Jr.’s assets as the back-tax litigation proceeds. The PokerStars brand ambassador will reportedly appeal the fine and continue his attempt to convince officials his company’s income isn’t related to his personal wealth.

PokerStars Italia

Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, (the other) Ronaldo, and Fatima Moreira De Melo, Neymar is one of just four Team SportStars members endorsed by the famed poker platform. While Neymar Jr. will continue fighting tax penalties and allegations of evasion in Brazil, PokerStars is running a special “Neymar Jr. Edition” Spin & Gos (SNG) on its Italian domain.

Now through February 7th, online poker players in Italy can compete in tournaments with buy-ins at €0.20 ($0.22), €2 ($2.19), and €25 ($27.40). The promotional period brings a multiplier top prize of €500,000 ($548,000) to each level, though the odds are better at the $27.40 price tier.

The Neymar SNG series is only available in Italy due to gambling advertising restrictions in the United Kingdom that prevents the use of anyone under the age of 25 from being included in marketing materials.

The general PokerStars international pool is instead using their other soccer superstar, by way of Cristiano Ronaldo. The campaign largely mimics the Neymar Jr. series, with the one exception being the top prize is nearly doubled to $1 million, due to the projected larger pool of players and total entries.

While the SNG format created much buzz over the last couple of years for its swift gameplay and large payout potential, players should be aware that it comes with rather high rakes. For the Neymar tournaments, rakes reach as high as 10 percent.

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