GAA chiefs deny cut in ref expenses

GAA bosses have denied inter-county referees’ expenses could be reduced to comply with tax requirements.

Speculation is rife the allowances will be cut to come into line as Revenue have made inquiries about how referees arecompensated for officiating games.

“Everything will be remaining the same — 50 cent a mile and their grub,” said GAA national referees coordinator Pat Doherty.

A figure of €13.87 has been floated as a match rate but Doherty says it “might be a sustenance level forsomebody who doesn’t expend on food and that wouldn’t be the case at inter-county level”.

However, there is deep concern at county board level that club referees could now see their match fees reduced as a result of the Revenue’spressure on the GAA.

The Irish Examiner understand referees in Cork are seeking clarification about their expenses being cut, while the Clare County Board have asked to speak to referees inrelation to their fees.

Counties vary but few provide referees with specific sustenance expenses instead offering set fees for taking charge of games, while some also offer mileage. The average fee offered by county boards is approximately €40 for a championship game but there is fear that could now drop to as low as €13.50, excluding a 50 cent per mile travel rate. Contacted last night, Gaelic Match Officials Association (GMAO) secretary Alan Nash admitted there was consternation about the speculation at inter-county level.

“A number of referees at grassroots have heard the stories. There has been a lot of talk about inter-county expenses being greatly reduced.

“There is a nervousness among our members about how they are fixed and what they will have to do to ensure they are tax-compliant. There is also concern about how all this might impact on those who are on social welfare benefits.”

Nash revealed he has sought tax advice from Kilkenny-based accountants O’Neill-Foley. . One option is to register as an employee of thecounty board, which would ensure they don’t need to file personal taxreturns. The sole responsibility for paying the taxes would be on the county board and they would be able to avail of tax-free travel and subsistence allowances within theRevenue’s rules. However, this could affect tax credits and standard rate cut-off band reduced as a result while tax would be charged on match fees, excluding mileage and food.

The second option is to register as self-employed for income tax with match fees received without tax deductions. But referees would have to file an income tax return each year.

The Revenue met with Croke Park officials late last year and countychairmen were informed about the discussions at a meeting in Dublinbefore Christmas. While the GAA is regarded as an amateur organisation, referees are judged to provide services to the Association and are therefore not tax exempt.

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