EPT Barcelona Runner-Up Sent to Jail for Non-Payment of Taxes

The Provincial Court of Palma, Mallorca, where Dragan Kostic's appeal against his jail sentence was rejected last Monday

Dragan Kostic, who earned $766,438 for finishing second in 2011's EPT Barcelona Main Event had his appeal against a prison sentence of 18 months for non-payment of taxes on poker winnings rejected last week by the Provincial Court of Palma.

Macedonaian national Kostic, 55, who has lived in Spain since 1992 won €532,000 ($766,438) for finishing second to Germany's Martin Schleich in EPT Barcelon Main Event in 2011. Under Spanish law he should by rights have paid some €228,000 in taxes to the government, something he singularly failed to do.

Kostic in fact claimed a €1,315 tax rebate in 2011 and attempted to exonerate himself from any wrongdoing by claiming ignorance, that he wasn't aware that he has liable to pay taxation on poker winnings. He then went on to suggest that taxes owed had been deducted at source in other instances in which he’d collected live tournament winnings and that he had assumed the same had taken place in Barcelona.

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Above: Dragan Kostic pictured in happier times, during his deep run at EPT Barcelona in 2011

The courts rejected Kostic's 'defence' due to a lack of plausibility. Not only had Kostic previously paid taxes on wins of €7,000 and €20,000 thus immediately destroying his 'ignorance' defence, but the court also found it highly improbable that a man whose sole income is derived from playing poker and who has travelled the world to play in tournaments and collected over $1m in winnings over a 9 year period would be unaware of his obligation to pay tax to the state. An extract of the ruling reads;

“It seems the least peculiar that a professional player, who participates in world tournaments and who wins prizes of such caliber, does not worry about the subject of taxation, rather, he does ensure that he knows if there is an obligation or not to pay tax when that is the only profit and only income he has”

Not only must Kosticnow serve 18 months in prison but he has also been hit with a hefty fine. On top of the €228,000 in back taxes, Kostic has been ordered to pay a further €400,000 in penalties

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