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Court: winning Big Brother is taxable work

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Court: winning Big Brother is taxable work
Sirtl, the winner who challenged the tax office. Photo: DPA
07:02 CEST+02:00
Watching the Big Brother television “reality” series may feel like a chore – now a German court has ruled that being in it is work not play, and that the winner must pay tax on his prize money.

Wednesday's verdict is likely to apply to other shows such as Heidi Klum's Germany's Next Topmodel and the various casting competitions.

The Federal Tax Court in Munich told Big Brother 2005 winner Sascha Sirtl that he would have to pay income tax on his €1 million prize money, rejecting his appeal against his regional tax office.

Taking part in the Big Brother show was taxable because, “The complainant owes – like all other candidates – his constant presence in the Big Brother house to the organiser,” the court said.

It added that, “he had to allow himself to be filmed and listened to during his presence there, and after being selected, had to take part in competitions with other candidates.”

This could not be ranked as a game or a bet – making his winnings taxable, unlike the prizes from quiz shows such as “Who wants to be a Millionaire”.

Sirtl's lawyer Burkhard Binnewies said that the duration of participation seemed to have been key in prompting the question, when does a game become so professional that it becomes work?

“This will change the whole sector,” he said, suggesting that the winners of shows such as “Germany's Next Topmodel”, “The Supertalent” and “Germany seeks a Superstar” would also have to pay tax in the future.

DPA/The Local

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