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Echoes

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Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
« on: July 18, 2016, 21:15 »
This is an article from Dag Allemaal, a Belgian magazine (rather tabloid-like) from July 12 (my birthday) that deals with Tim Wellens' recent move to Monaco. As much as I'm a fan of the guy, I'm a bit saddened at the fact he abandoned his house building project on the top of the Côte de Cherave near Huy (where he would often attack at the Arrow, for Monaco. However when you know where tax money goes, you cannot blame him.

The article also mentions other Belgian athletes who are/were Monaco residents: Axel Merckx, Gert Steegmans, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert, Stefan Everts, Justine Hénin, Thierry Boutsen,...



Tim Wellens (25), one of our best cyclist of the moments moves to Monaco. His employers prevents him from talking about it but it’s rather logical that the tax assets of the Principality is one of the reasons for it.

Wellens is not the first cyclist to move to the mini-state. Axel Merckx, Gert Steegmans, Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert had already done it before.

Former cycling hero Eddy Planckaert is also a fan of Tim Wellens’, though he refuses to call him the hope of the nation:
Quote
He’s already shown very nice things and is guaranteed to win a lot more races. Yet I don’t see any Lucien Van Impe in him. Not because he did very poorly in his debut in the Tour of France last year – you cannot blame such a young guy for it – he will sure win a stage in the Tour of France, maybe three of them but not 15 of them and never higher than a top10 overall, though you never know how he will evolve.

Zero Euro Tax

Monaco is hardly 1.95km2 and roughly counts 35,000 inhabitants. But only 6,000 of them are of Monegasque heritage, the majority of them (29,000 inh.) are rich citizens of 140 countries. Among them are a great many athletes who capitalize on the tax free regime. That’s how Justine Hénin, Stefan Everts [former motor-cross star] and former F1 pilot Thierry Boutsen live(d) in Monaco.

Yet Belgian pro athletes only pay tax in the countries where they’ve earned their prize money. In this respect Wellens’ move to Monaco is not profitable. When the young rider won a stage at the Tour of Italy this year he needed to pay tax on his prize money. Justine Hénin then again paid taxes in France for the millions that her four wins at the French Open provided to her. Yet she did a bonanza with her move to Monaco. The principality does not raise any taxes on “secondary income” as sponsor money and commercial income. And with great sport stars such as Hénin, those secondary incomes are sometimes higher than their prize money. When the Walloon got 3.5M€ from Adidas to become the face of the sport manufacturer, she as a Monaco resident did not have to pay any income tax for that.

If Tim Wellens soon comes up in a commercial spot, we’d know straight why he suddenly moved to Monaco.

Clean record

Why then doesn’t every sport star move to Monaco, would you think? The reason is simple. The mini-state works with residence permit and since the area is limited they don’t tolerate anybody. First you have to own a clean record. Then you need to rent a house or a flat and to open a bank account in one of the numerous local banks. On those accounts you have to deposit enough money on that account in order to show that you can finance your stay in Monaco. Finally you have to have a conversation with the authority. At the end of the day they decide whether you may stay in Monaco or not.

Besides, finding a housing in Monaco is not an easy task. With its 1.95km2 the sunny ministate is a bit smaller than the average Flemish village. Hence you cannot see too many villas with big gardens and the flats are massively coveted. So coveted that a 70m2 flat can easily cost 10,000€ a month (15 to 20 times more than a similar flat in Brussels, Ghent or Antwerp).

For Tim Wellens that shouldn’t be too much of a problem even though he’s not such a big money maker  yet as his new neighbour, Philippe Gilbert. The latter gets 3 million € a year from his team BMC to race for the colours of the said bike manufacturer. It’s doubtful that Lotto Soudal pays its young talent so richly but with a 500,000 income per year you can survive in Monaco.

Eddy Planckaert believes that our talent already earns more than that:
Quote
Just imagine that Wellens a million or 1.5 million gets from his team, than he should be crazy to keep on living in Belgium and still pay half his income to the taxes. As a rider you have to train real hard in order to earn your money in few years. It’s logical that he leaves. If tomorrow they gave me 2 million euros, I also leave for Monaco. No Wellens seems like a smart guy to me. But those riders should not act stupidly and tell everyone that they are going to Monaco for the nice weather and the good training conditions. They can find that in all Southern Europe, why then don’t they move to Calpe or Benidorm where they can find much cheaper houses than in Monaco? Because there they need to pay taxes of course. Monaco’s mild winters are simply a welcome bonus but not the main reason.

Highest Level

Wellens already showed on his 25 that he was his big contract worth: He’s already won twice the Tour of the Low Countries, won the GP of Montreal last year and this year a stage in Paris-Nice and in the Tour of Italy.

According to DS Marc Sergeant, that’s only the beginning:
Quote
Tim Wellens’ progress since his debut among the pro ranks has been impressive. Nobody knows what margin there still is but I’m convinced that Wellens belongs to the limited community of Belgian riders who can fight along at the highest international level.
No wonder then that Lotto-Soudal burst and extended his contract till end 2018. The consequence of it is that Wellens temporarily put his however concrete building plans in Huy “in the fridge” and turned the prow to Monaco. Officially for the good training conditions but nobody doubts that financial profit the main reason for that is.
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  • « Last Edit: July 02, 2019, 09:56 by Echoes »
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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #1 on: July 18, 2016, 22:00 »
    It is not only Belgian athletes that do this, let me put it this way: I think we pay more income tax in Norway...

    Thor Hushovd also lives in Monaco AFAIK (he is a good friend of Gilbert, reportedly) and quite a few of our best alpine skiiers have had a Monaco residence. A couple of Swedish tennis aces went the same way AFAIK.

    I think we can assume there are some financial advisors that specialize in how sports stars can manage their income, and that Wellens suddenly popped up on their radar screen.

    I have to say I admire him and the others in their sporting abilities but not in the way that the refuse to take their share of the burden of running the society.

    Then again, it is not like these athletes are the only persons in the western european EU states to do so. Pretty much all the countries have their own tax haven for the rich. For Wellens, the training conditions could play a part as for tax haven I guess he could just moved east to Luxembourg?

    EDIT: On the positive side, one thing we really like about Edvald Boasson Hagen and Aleksander Kristoff is they actually live here, train here (even in winter), and pay tax here - unlike Hushovd, who runs away from his responsibilities.

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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #2 on: July 19, 2016, 11:20 »
    Living in Monaco isn't always great though:
    http://www.cyclingquotes.com/news/break_for_unmotivated_westra/

    "When things don't work, you ask yourself questions. I live alone in a small appartment in Monaco for many consecutive months and did not see my mother for more than a year and then something like Broeckx' crash happens. Do I want all this? The thought has haunted me for some time."

    Yeah, you save taxes - but you also pay a small fortune for a small apartment.
    Sometimes I feel as if the only real profiteers are the Monte Carlo landlords.
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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #3 on: July 19, 2016, 11:31 »
    Living in Monaco isn't always great though:
    http://www.cyclingquotes.com/news/break_for_unmotivated_westra/

    "When things don't work, you ask yourself questions. I live alone in a small appartment in Monaco for many consecutive months and did not see my mother for more than a year and then something like Broeckx' crash happens. Do I want all this? The thought has haunted me for some time."

    Yeah, you save taxes - but you also pay a small fortune for a small apartment.
    Sometimes I feel as if the only real profiteers are the Monte Carlo landlords.

    Westra also said:

    Quote
    "Normally, I throw myself down a descent at 80km/h without any problem but now I dare hardly ride more than a hundred kilometers away from home," says the 33-year-old Monaco."Suppose that something happens with my bike in the middle of nowhere. Who will bring me home then?"

    It's an odd thing, I guess, because that's something that has always been a concern in the recesses of my own mind these last few years. There's absolutely nobody on whom I could call to help me out. My wife and most of my friends don't drive.

    I just try not to think about it otherwise I'd never go out on my bike. And then I think that, the only time I was ever involved in a crash situation here, people were kind and stopped to help.

    At least on his low-/no tax Astana salary, Westra could probably afford to call a taxi 100km from home! :P
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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #4 on: July 19, 2016, 11:36 »
    If often associate living in Monaco with F1 drivers, who earn salaries that would make even Froome or Sagan's eyes water. For them, like cyclists, they spend a lot of time away from home at races and at sponsor events, but they can afford the extortionate real estate costs.

    If you're Tim Wellens, and you earn less than €1m/year, say, it becomes much harder to justify the distance from family and friends - even if there is a community of other cyclists around[1]. If you're Lewis Hamilton and you want the glamorous lifestyle that comes with Monaco, then fine. Clearly it didn't suit Westra, and it wouldn't suit many others, either.

    As an aside - Mark Cavendish, who earns the sort of salary that would justify using Monaco to manage your tax liabilities, has a home on the Isle of Man where income tax is capped at £120,000/year - no-one pays more. Income tax in Andorra - also popular with cyclists, including Simon Gerrans I believe - is 10%. So Monaco is far from the only option.
     1. Incidentally, when I visited Monaco earlier this year, I was passed by a rider in full BMC kit. Living as I do near Richmond Park, I'm used to seeing amateurs riding in full kit, but then I realised that everything matched, including the bike. I'm fairly sure it was Richie Porte on his way towards Col d'Eze for a training ride.
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    LukasCPH

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #5 on: July 19, 2016, 17:17 »
    I just try not to think about it otherwise I'd never go out on my bike. And then I think that, the only time I was ever involved in a crash situation here, people were kind and stopped to help.
    Well, I simply don't throw myself down a descent with 80 km/h! :D
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  • Echoes

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #6 on: July 19, 2016, 18:46 »


    I have to say I admire him and the others in their sporting abilities but not in the way that the refuse to take their share of the burden of running the society.

    It used to be my opinion too. However now, I'm rather divided on the issue because it seems that tax money is rather used for debt repayment, which in my opinion is illegitimate than serves the real economy and social purposes. In that regard I think the likes of Wellens, Hushovd or Gilbert are right to try and keep their money.


    By the way, there's something I don't understand about the article I translated. The author made a comparison between Tim Wellens and former tennis player Justine Hénin. Tennis players are self-employed. So their income would typically come from prize-money. With prize-money you pay taxin the countries in which you compete. So Hénin's move to Monaco was not profitable unless for sponsor money and commercials. So the author assumed that it might be likely to see Tim Wellens making some commercials in the following months. But Wellens as a cyclist is on salary, not self-employed. Prize money in cycling is shared among teammates. In this respect, isn't it already more profitable for a cyclist to move to Monaco than it is for a tennis player?
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #7 on: July 19, 2016, 20:51 »
    But Wellens as a cyclist is on salary, not self-employed.
    Virtually every pro cyclist is self-employed.
    There are two contract forms in UCI regulations - either you're a direct employee of the team, or you're self-employed and contracted by the team.

    You can be very, very sure that every WT pro is self-employed, not a direct employee.
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  • Echoes

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #8 on: August 04, 2019, 11:46 »
    Remco Evenepoel is next in line. https://www.hln.be/sport/wielrennen/remco-evenepoel-19-breekt-met-vriendin-en-verhuist-naar-monaco-ik-moet-in-de-bergen-trainen-in-belgie-kan-dat-niet~a976a5e3/

    Remco broke up with girlfriend as she had to carry on her studies in Belgium.

    Boonen warns him that Monaco is great for training in the mountains (great climate and training facilities) but he shouldn't be afraid of loneliness. Philippe Gilbert helped him out and will show him the way.

    Apparently some 40 riders are Monaco residents.  :o Among them are Froome, Thomas, Porte and Kruiswijk (is that true?)

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  • Mellow Velo

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #9 on: August 04, 2019, 14:23 »
     Not just a load of cyclists.
    The principality has large numbers of top sports persons living there, who couldn't give a monkey's about the mountains.
     They are all residents of Monaco for one reason: tax, and not having to pay it.

    https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/060316/why-monaco-considered-tax-haven.asp
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    Echoes

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #10 on: August 04, 2019, 18:18 »
    Yes I also found it odd that the Het Laatste Nieuws article (at least the online one) did not even raise the issue of tax evasion but since we've already discussed that issue earlier in this very thread I didn't really find it necessary to refer to it either.

    I know that many sport and show business stars move to Monaco for tax evasion, not just cycling riders. I only started this thread because of the Dag Allemaal article that I found three years ago about Tim Wellens.
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  • « Last Edit: August 04, 2019, 18:42 by Echoes »

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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #11 on: August 11, 2019, 21:27 »
    News was too quick, apparently. Apologies for it! Remco Evenepoel's move to Monaco hasn't yet been decided and he and his team consider moving to Andorra, along with Julian Alaphilippe. "In Andorra you are sleeping at 1,800m. That's a real asset. Remco would not even need to make altitude training anymore."

    https://www.sportsactu.be/cyclisme/news/2019-08-09/andorre-plutot-que-monaco-pour-evenepoel-un-avantage
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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #12 on: August 12, 2019, 19:09 »
    Remco broke up with girlfriend as she had to carry on her studies in Belgium.

    Boonen warns him that Monaco is great for training in the mountains (great climate and training facilities) but he shouldn't be afraid of loneliness. Philippe Gilbert helped him out and will show him the way.

    Gilbert himself seems to be sceptical himself though. There was an interview in Het Nieuwsblad today:

    "If you move to Monaco alone, it's the beginning of a new life: do your laundry yourself, make your own food, groceries... Those are two, three hours of additional work per day, and the impact on the training is massive. There are many riders in Monaco, but all of them are settled, and live with their wifes or girlfriends. But alone in Monaco?! I can't think of many riders doing that."

    It's a bit of a strange argument though, as (as far as I can see) this would be the case basically everywhere - unless he plans to live with his mum forever
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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #13 on: August 12, 2019, 21:46 »
    Nice to see it's still the responsibility of wives/girlfriends/mothers to do a mans laundry and prepare them food.  :S
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    Re: Belgian Cyclists Moving to Monaco
    « Reply #14 on: August 13, 2019, 01:29 »
    Nice to see it's still the responsibility of wives/girlfriends/mothers to do a mans laundry and prepare them food.  :S

    Two to three hours of work per day...for the needs of one person!?!?  :D

    How many different kits does Gilbert go through in a week?

    And what kind of gourmet demands has he become accustomed to? :slow

    Laundry: Once a week
    Grocery shopping: Once a week.
    Done.

    Does Phillipe's home village look like this?



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