Revenue to swoop on GAA
County boards on alert as team expenses and payments come under scrutiny
GAA officials throughout the country have been alerted to an impending Revenue swoop on their books and have been warned to have them in order.
Revenue's visits are expected to include examinations of the increasingly huge sums that counties are paying out on inter-county team expenses and are also likely to probe payments to team managers.
Under the GAA's rules, the only payments that team managers can receive are vouched expenses for travel (at a set rate nationally) and meals.
But there is a strong belief within the association that this rule is being broken both at club and inter-county level and GAA president Christy Cooney himself has described 'illegal payments' to managers as "a cancer running through our organisation."
A meeting of all county chairmen in Croke Park before Christmas informed them that the Revenue Commissioners have already met with the GAA centrally and discussed what will be involved.
All county boards have been told to expect to have their local books audited in 2012.
Croke Park has promised that members of the GAA's central finance committee will visit each county in the coming weeks in order to advise exactly what Revenue's audit will entail and to give local organisers practical advice in preparing for their inspections.
The Irish Independent has also learned that at least one county board -- Limerick -- underwent a full audit by Revenue in 2010.
That looked at every aspect of Limerick's finances, including some queries about payments to inter-county managements.
The latter is believed to have been sparked by a complaint from a member of the public.
But Limerick secretary Michael O'Riordan said yesterday that the County Board had contacted Revenue independently to seek clarification on some of their own tax liabilities, including those of people who had been employed to run the stiles at the county grounds.
"We approached Revenue with our own queries because we were putting some new procedures in place that we needed clarification on. They also approached us about another matter," said O'Riordan.
"We had absolutely no problems with the process. It took three days, was very thorough and afterwards we were fully approved by Revenue and there were no grey areas whatsoever."
With government coffers so bare, Revenue has been exploring every last avenue to recoup outstanding taxes. It has introduced a particularly strict 'shadow-economy project' in the past year and has come under fire in the past week for the way it went about recovering taxes from pensioners.
Meanwhile, the GAA's top brass seem certain to veto the idea of an All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final being staged at Semple Stadium this year.
Thurles Town Council is preparing to write to the Munster Council and GAA authorities, seeking to have the provincial decider and an All-Ireland semi-final staged in Thurles to coincide with the town being the European Town of Sport for 2012.