Italy: Motorcycle legend will pay 20 million euros in back taxes

Rome, 7 Feb. (AKI) - Seven-time motorcycle world champion Valentino Rossi will pay the Italian government 20 million euros in back taxes.

Rossi, considered an international sports legend, was supposed to pay over 112 million euros to tax authorities on undeclared earnings of 60 million euros accrued from 2000 to 2004.

But Rossi's tax consultants managed to reduce that figure to 20 million euros.

The 28-year-old sports champion has been at the centre of a national controversy since the full extent of his unpaid taxes were revealed in August 2007. He has asked Italian tax officials if he can pay off his debt in stages.

"I think it is finally over. Valentino will once again smile, win and take things as they come...he is not a tax evader and the proof is his decision to pay," said Rossi's lawyer Lucio Monaco in an interview with the news website,

"He did not want a war, only a fair accord."

Rossi reportedly lived in London, to take advantage of its tax regime, instead of his home town, Tavullia, in the Marche region of Italy, where he was said to be paying over six-thousand euros per month on an unregistered rental contract.

He also owns eight luxury cars, among them a Porsche, a BMW and a Mercedes.

Valentino Rossi is one of the world's highest paid sportsmen, reportedly earning over 37 million euros a year from his contract with the Japanese vehicle producer, Yamaha, plus more from numerous merchandising and sponsorship deals.

Italian media reported a further meeting will be held to finalise the deal between Rossi and tax officials.The meeting is scheduled at the Pesaro tax office in the Marche region on 12 February.

Tax evasion in Italy is rife and the centre-left government of former prime minister Romano Prodi has made clamping down on Italy's rampant tax evasion one of its top priorities.

Conservative estimates put the value of Italy's black economy at half its gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, Italian football coach and England's current football manager Fabio Capello is being investigated by Italian authorities for alleged tax evasion.


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