Retirement loophole allows footballers to avoid millions in tax

November 1, 2023


English Premier League footballers have been using a major tax loophole to keep large portions of their income out of the hands of HM Revenue and Customs. EFRBS - Employer Financed Retirement Benefit Schemes - have become popular at many big Premier League clubs and allow players and their agents to divert a large portion of their salary into a fund to be used after their career has ended. EFRBS allows footballers to avoid up to 50% of income tax. Recently, more and more players have been drawn to play for clubs in Europe because of the new 50% tax band for top earners being introduced in April 2014.

The EFRBS loophole is entirely legal but is likely to come under increasing scrutiny from tax authorities in the coming months as it becomes more and more commonplace. Though EFRBS has been around for nearly two decades, it has become much more popular in the years since HMRC cracked down on “image rights” deals that allowed clubs and players to avoid paying significant amounts of tax. An EFRBS is understood to be a key component of Wayne Rooney‘s new contract with Manchester United which will see the player net around £200,000 a week before tax.

English clubs are coming under increasing competition from teams in Spain and Russia where taxation on player earnings is generally much more relaxed. Until 2012, players in Spain were taxed only 24% while today those in Russia only pay 13%. The Spanish rate rose to 43% in January 2013 as Spain’s government attempted to rise more revenue to save the country’s struggling economy. Many footballers are not content with losing up to half of their salary, as in the UK, and clubs are having to fork out larger and larger sums every week to meet their players’ take home pay expectations.

However, the tax office has warned that it will be seeking to eliminate the EFRBS  loophole as it makes efforts to crack down on tax avoidance.


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is a Team Leader in the Media Architecture department at Money Lion and is responsible for delivering innovative link-building strategies that combine external content strategy with elements of blogging and social media. Prior to his time at Money Lion, Jodi worked in online media in an editorial role while moonlighting as a blogger.

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