Saturday 17 March 2018

Colm Keys: Team holidays next on the hit list

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The spectre of end-of- year team holidays being liable for taxation has been raised by the report on the GAA's amateur status and payment to managers which was published earlier this week.

The wide-ranging document will provoke a considerable debate over the next few months as the GAA tries to take a new direction on the under-the-counter payments to some of its managers.

But in the report it is suggested that vouchers for holidays and 'gifts' "are not considered as expenses by Revenue, and are, therefore, liable to tax."

Could it be concluded then that the end of year team holiday, a package for some of the more successful teams, which, when inclusive of partners and spending money, can be in the region of €6,000, be considered a gift? If holiday vouchers are liable for taxation would the actual holiday itself not come under the same obligation?

The consideration of holiday vouchers, gifts and donations is involved in the discussion on paying managers greater expenses.

The definition of expenses according to Revenue is "payments which do no more than reimburse a worker for allowable expenses (ie, those incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the position), which were actually incurred may be made free of tax in certain circumstances, in accordance with legislation," and "a worker who has been "necessarily obliged" to incur an expense "in the performance of the duties" is allowed to claim a deduction for that expense if it has not been reimbursed.

By the strict letter of the law, end-of-year team holidays do not come under these terms.

As a reward for their All-Ireland success, the Dublin footballers headed off to Florida and the Cayman Islands for two weeks at the end of November. Much of the funding from the trip was generated by the players themselves through appearances, the sale of a DVD and the sale of a commemorative book.

Many other teams have gone to exotic locations like Thailand, Dubai, South Africa and Hawaii.

But the scale of holidays has begun to diminish and some teams are now using their end-of-year breaks to get some warm-weather pre-season training under their belts.

As the chairmen and secretaries of all the county boards descend on Croke Park tomorrow morning, the message from them will be clear that, at grassroots level, it is not something that is wholly exercising them.

The report outlined that the least palatable option would be to continue with the status quo and turn a blind eye to the payments in direct contravention to rules, but, increasingly, that seems to be the attitude to a growing chorus of GAA members -- an Irish solution to an Irish problem, perhaps.

Even more surprising is the number of players who are publicly and privately warning of trouble if managers' payments are brought 'above the table.'

When the Gaelic Players Association conducted a survey on the matter prior to Congress in 2010, it found that over two thirds of players favoured payments to managers and that of those two thirds over 70pc would not seek similar remuneration themselves.

A working group on the issue is to be set up and it is hoped that they would report back after a wide-ranging consultative process within two months.

Irish Independent

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