Case to benefit wider community
A LOSING court case involving Northern New South Wales Football, the main body administering local soccer, may eventually lead to wider benefits to sporting and community organisations.
NNSW Football was last year granted charity status which promised to deliver a range of stamp duty and payroll exemptions but an appeal by the commissioner of state revenue to the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal has overturned that victory.
But in announcing the decision, the three-person panel making up the tribunal stressed their hands were tied and hinted strongly that law reform in this area would be timely.
The decision was made on rules of law dating back to 1885, which held that ‘gifts for the encouragement of a mere sport will not be charitable’ and if changed would have enormous implications for all not-for-profit recreational and sporting clubs.
At the grass roots level, North Coast Football’s operations manager Bob Harris believes strongly that any genuine not-for-profit community organisation is already performing a charitable function and should have most burdens, such as taxation and the like, lifted.
“The imposition of taxes only leads to an increase in fees to players, including juniors,” he said.
“Most of our income is derived from the players with a small amount from sponsorship and we get little or no government funding.
“At the end of every season the books are audited and those clubs lucky enough to have a surplus immediately plough those funds back into fields and equipment, so it doesn’t make sense to have taxes charged when you’re paying for the privilege.
“It’s not as if we’re all driving around in Rolls Royces on the profits we make.”
On the specific subject of payroll tax, Harris maintains wages bills are minimal and it’s the other government revenue-raising areas such as stamp duty where the real impositions lie.
“Our competition is predominantly amateur but, of course, clubs with bigger incomes who can afford it may decide to provide incentives to players, such as paying their insurance or giving them petrol money,” he said.
“Professional payments are very rare and there’s a contract document signed when that occurs.
“But with no entry fees to matches and most ground income generated by the canteen, those sorts of payments are minor when compared to the other football codes.”
With the outcome of the tribunal hearing still sinking in, there is no indication as yet what the next step for NNSW Football will be.
“Northern make no secret they have built up considerable resources over the years,” Harris said.
“While I don’t have any idea where they’ll head to next, whatever it is it will be not just for the benefit of football but for all sports who consider themselves as amateur.
“And for that matter, even organisations who aren’t involved in sport but with an overall community focus.”