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Posted at 19:56 2012-07-25 by Matthew Pitt
The owner of Hobart's Museum of Old New Art (MONA), David Walsh, has said he will go to the High Court in order to fight a $37 million tax bill sent to him by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Walsh, an avid art collector, opened MONA in 2011 using the profits he had obtained from gambling. In fact the entire MONA project could have failed had it not been for a number high-stakes bets that came in on the result of the Melbourne Cup. During the Melbourne Cup Walsh won a reported $16-17 million, which was used to complete the MONA project.
The ATO are saying that the Tasmanian arts philanthropist's winnings are taxable because he is a professional gambler who is also part of an international gaming syndicate. According to the report on ABC.net, the ATO are ordering Walsh to pay tax on his gambling earnings between 2003 and 2006 and it is believed that all of Walsh's betting accounts have been frozen.
Speaking to ABC's Lateline, Walsh revealed that the future of MONA was now in jeopardy and that he was planning on taking his case to the High Court.
I'll have to take it all the way because one, I can't pay the bill; and two I think it's particularly unjust this retrospectively. I'll take it to the High Court and I'm pretty sure that the High Court will want to hear it because it is, if the ATO's view is upheld, a significant precedent.
If winning money makes you a business, which is fundamentally what it boils down to because there are people that are just as organised as us that win and lose, then they're going to have problems with a lot of other potential claims for losses or maybe they intend to go the US way and this is the thin edge of the wedge and they're going to eventually tax all winners.
PokerNetwork will bring you more as the case develops.
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