World of Sport

Beckham’s charitable gesture blasted as tax avoidance scheme

David Beckham's apparent generosity in giving his huge salary at PSG to a local children's charity has been attacked as a tax avoidance scam.

The 37-year-old was hailed as a "saint" for his refusal to pocket his £170,000-a-week wages, but apart from helping children the move means that he will avoid a whopping 75 per cent super tax that France recently brought in to hammer big earners.

The Daily Mail reports that Becks's decision to keep wife Victoria and his children based in London rather than Paris, and to sign only a five month contract - despite earlier reports that he had agreed an 18-month deal - also allow the superstar to claim that he is not resident in France for tax purposes. That means he avoids tax on worldwide income - including sponsorship deals estimated at around £20 million a year.

The new 75 per cent tax band, currently being brought in by recently-installed president Francois Hollande, is highly controversial in France as it has prompted a number of high-profile French stars - among them Gerard Depardieu - to leave the country.

Beckham will receive the French player's union minimum wage of just under £2,000 a week in order to comply with local legislation, out of which he will pay tax and national insurance contributions.

But the tax scheme that protects the majority of his earnings has drawn heavy criticism in France, with MP Gerald Darmanin saying that the new law is counter-productive: "I’d rather get 50 per cent of a lot than 75 per cent of nothing," he said. "He will be paid less than my parliamentary assistant!"

The law's creators claim that Beckham's presence at Paris St Germain will still bring huge benefits and wealth to the country: "Me, I see a symbol," argues socialist MP Jerome Guedj. "He will create wealth around PSG, image rights, jerseys sold by PSG. This is proof that the tax system in France does not leak."

The Beckham backlash in France has not just been about his tax affairs, however. After the initial excitement, the criticism of the move has begun in earnest in the French media: Le Figaro have started referring to Beckham as "a third-hand Rolls Royce".