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After the government’s budget statement, it is certain: from next year, professional football players will have to pay higher social security contributions. “The most important thing is that the great injustice is that the more people are paid, the less they contribute to social security,” says Joris Vandenbroucke (Vooruit), who led the way from the start. “This plan is to turn that around. The lower wages will get a sports bonus that will fade out as you earn more. The absolute top earners will have to pay the full amount, like any employee.”
That is good news for amateur athletes or semi-professional athletes, but also a hefty bill for the best-paid athletes in our country. The highest paid football players in 1A earn an annual amount of about three million euros gross per year. Previously, their social security contributions were calculated on a fictitious ceiling of 28,800 euros gross. If that were to disappear, their social security expenditure would increase from 3,764 euros per year to 392,100 euros per year. In this way, the Belgian State takes 388,336 euros more from their portfolio every year.
For the clubs, the bill for those high wages would rise even more: from 9,216 euros per year to 960,000 euros per year, or a difference of 950,784 euros. For a club like Club Brugge, which employs two of the highest paid players in Belgium with Simon Mignolet and Hans Vanaken, the bill suddenly becomes a lot more expensive. For example, it will be a lot more difficult for our clubs to pay high wages.
At the moment the question is mainly where the line will be drawn: from when do you pay the full amount as a top athlete and when not? This will be discussed with the various sports associations in the coming weeks and months. In any case, the government is counting on this adjustment to bring them €30 million.
Another ten million euros should come from a reworking of the payroll tax system. “Instead of transferring the withholding tax to the tax authorities, football clubs are allowed to keep 80% of the total amount. That money will now only be used for youth training. Every euro they keep for themselves will have to be accounted for,” explains Steven Matheï (CD&V).
The other three million is hoped to be collected through, among other things, a heavier tax on brokerage transactions. The government takes the advice of the world football association FIFA from a 3 percent committee as a guideline. “If the clubs still want to pay more, they will be punished with an extra tax,” said Matheï, who co-initiated the bill. “In this way we want to prevent the tax benefits that we give the clubs from ending up with the brokers at the end of the ride.”