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Friday 11 January 2019
Professional esports athletes must register for tax.
The law is quite clear.
There is a specific inclusion in the gross income definition (the definition used as the starting point to determine an individual’s taxable income) which states that amounts received in relation to services rendered – even if it is a voluntary award – will be included in gross income and subject to tax.
Since a professional esports athletes would be considered to be an employee of the company for which he plays (see The basics about contracts for esports athletes) if such employee receives a reward related to his job function, it will be considered gross income as it is linked to services rendered.
Thus winning prize money in a competition if you are a professional esports athlete would be seen by revenue authorities (SARS) as being related to a job function.
Whether the prize could be cash or otherwise, the prize will still be subject to tax.
If it is a non-cash prize, the monetary worth of that specific item will be included in gross income and subject to tax.
Thus it stands to reason that all companies (which often call themselves MGO's) running professional teams need to register with the revenue authorities in regard to declaring their winnings and the withholding of tax on their athletes.