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ARGENTINA | 18-02-2022 22:54

‘Kun’ Agüero versus the Kirchnerites

Sergio Agüero sparks debate and anger on social networks after he questions the national government’s ‘wealth tax’ on large fortunes.

Since he retired from football, Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero's life has changed dramatically. Today he is making the most of it by devoting himself completely to a passion that has always interested him: e-sports. Last December he even created his own team in Argentina for competition, named KRÜ.

On his Twitch account, Agüero has already racked up more than 3,500,000 followers, becoming a streaming phenomenon. The former footballer makes regular live broadcasts to show off his performance in video games and to offer his opinion about some of his own and other people's best sporting moments. And of late, he’s also started referring to the current economic and political situation in Argentina. 

A few days ago, the ex-national team striker expressed his opinion about the state of the roads in the country, especially Ruta 6, on the outskirts of Greater Buenos Aires. “It’s a disaster,” he told his followers. “I don't know why we pay so many taxes." 

And this week, another video from Kun’s streams went viral – one in which the star talks about the national government’s one-off capital levy, more commonly referred to as ‘the wealth tax.’ 

Agüero, clearly annoyed with the “solidarity contribution” imposed by President Alberto Fernández's government in response to the coronavirus pandemic, highlighted the issue of double taxation. 

"Do you know what ‘wealth’ is? I imagine you do. It is everything you have in the world. There are countries that charge you annually for having money in your account anywhere in the world. I ask you a question: Why do they charge you? If you already pay taxes," Kun asked his followers.

He continued: "I don't mind paying income [tax] because you're working and you're doing well. If you pay 30 percent, 50 percent, like in England for example. If you generate money, it's fine, you pay. I'm not convinced that you should pay an annual percentage of the wealth you have, it seems crazy to me. If you've already paid taxes on your income, why do you have to keep paying more money?”

Later, on Twitter, the ex-footballer returned to the subject by responding to a follower: "I’ll answer you here. The wealth is in many countries and not only in Argentina. Now I ask you, if all your life you generated, already paying taxes, why are you still paying? If you don't have income in the year, you continue paying all the same – I was [once] poor and nobody gave me anything for free."

The opinion of the former Manchester City footballer generated enormous repercussions online, sparking almost a national debate and, on Twitter, many politicians also wanted to join in.

From within Kirchnerite ranks (the sector of the ruling coalition that proposed the bill imposing a capital levy), several lawmakers responded to Kun. One was Natalia Zaracho, who decided to publish a fragment of an interview with Diego Maradona in 1996, posting: "In the debate that is reopening about the wealth tax, I would like to rescue this phrase from Diego." In this press clipping, the former captain of the Argentine national team declares: "The government should take from those who have the most, like me."

Itai Higman, for his part, wrote: "Why, if I have already paid taxes on my income, do I have to pay taxes on my wealth? I think this is a very cool question that Kun opened today to talk a bit about tax policy and inequalities." 

Higman accompanied his post with a video in which, among other things, he argues that "a state can charge a regressive tax, like the one charged on consumption; or a progressive tax, which is paid to those who have the most. The one that taxes wealth is the one most in demand. In the world we have a great inequality of wealth, which is more structural than income inequality" and that "wealth does not stand still: in Argentina only one percent pay, that is, those who have the greatest accumulated wealth. It is a question of how the state is financed. It is better to do it with progressive taxes and not regressive taxes."

Roberto Arias, secretary for tax policy at the Ministry of Economy, also expressed his opinion: "In several European countries, income tax rates are much higher than in Argentina, although they do not have a personal property tax (they do pay high taxes on real estate and motor vehicles)."

He added: "A wealth tax is a good complement to income taxes, because very wealthy people have many ways to evade/avoid income taxes. Maybe it's not the case for a football player, but tax laws are general." 

So far, Kun has not responded to any politician, but he has promised to continue commenting on current affairs in Argentina.

On the opposite side of the debate, libertarian lawmaker Javier Milei shared the footballer’s video and endorsed his view euphorically. "Leones despertando, viva la libertad carajo,” declared the outspoken economist, hailing the footballer as another lion waking up.

Fellow deputy Ricardo López Murphy added: "What @aguerosergiokun says is impeccable and is exactly what Argentina must change. The state must stop plundering taxpayers with taxes. It is the only possible way for there to be more investment, more production and more growth."

The debate continues.

Daniel Vico

Daniel Vico

Consultor político.

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