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Top Bridge Pros' Tax Woes Continue

Recently, the #1 and #2 WBF-ranked players Geir Helgemo and Tor Helness were convicted of gross negligent tax fraud by the Oslo District Court.  Born in Norway, they began to represent Monaco in international competition almost a decade ago.  They were accused of not paying Norwegian taxes on combined earnings of 18,000,000 NOK (around $2.3 million) over an 8-year period.  The court deemed this to be in violation of Norwegian tax law and sentenced Helgemo to 14 months in prison plus a fine of 280,000 NOK (around $38,000), while Helness was sentenced to 16 months in prison and fined 340,000 NOK (around $43,000).  

We spoke with Helgemo, and learned that he is going to appeal this decision.  He believes he has a good chance of a much lighter sentence because he feels that he was under the tax laws of Monaco (which has no individual income tax), as the earnings in question were “paid in Monaco to play for Monaco, and (we) are also residents of Monaco.  However, we are still not convinced about the tax rules and can certainly not understand them.”  Even if the sentence isn’t reduced on appeal, the expected amount of prison time would be 6-11 months.

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