Things just got harder for rugby and football in Australia



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    Rugby union’s player drain to Europe could intensify and the A-League’s bid to attract more marquee players become even tougher as a result of proposed tax changes in the federal budget which have “blindsided” Australia’s elite athletes.

    The Australian Athletes Alliance (AAA) has written to Treasurer Scott Morrison requesting an urgent meeting to discuss measures it says will “undermine the viability of Australia’s sporting industry.”

    The changes would stop all athletes – including semi-professionals, aspiring Olympians and the elite – from reducing their tax bill by licensing their name and image rights to another entity.

    The effect is that portion of their earnings from sponsorships and the like would no longer be taxed at the lower company tax of 27.5 per cent and would be included in their assessable income.

    While the impact would be significant for all sports – especially women’s athletes, whose image-related income can sometimes exceed their actual salaries – it is likely to hit codes played internationally the hardest.

    That includes rugby and soccer, which already face challenges in keeping top Australian talent in the country.

    Rugby Union Players Association CEO Ross Xenos fears it will only encourage more Australians to head to countries like France, England and Ireland, which have more favourable tax systems for athletes.

    “Retaining our top talent is, year on year, becoming a bigger challenge as the European markets grow their commercial capacity,” Xenos told AAP.

    “These sorts of image rights structures have been important. Without them we either need to accept the fact we won’t be able to keep as many of our top athletes.

    “Or, if to maintain a competitive roster of our top players for international success of the Wallabies, this change to tax interpretation would put inflationary pressure on player salaries, which further undermines the money sport can invest in community and grassroots.”

    Similarly, Professional Footballers Australia chief John Didulica said soccer will struggle to keep players in Australia, as well as bring big names like Alessandro Del Piero to the country.

    “It’s not like the players have concocted some sort of exotic scheme to avoid paying their full whack of tax,” Didulica told AAP.

    “These are principles that have been in place, legally, for decades.

    “We’re now giving players another reason to leave Australia and go to other markets.”

    AAA general secretary Jacob Holmes suggested the implications of the move hadn’t been “fully considered” by the government.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • May 12th 2018 @ 9:41am
      Slat said | May 12th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      No matter how poorly your team is performing you should always support your team. There is light at the end of the tunnel😎

    • May 12th 2018 @ 10:57am
      i miss the force said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      tough luck

    • May 12th 2018 @ 12:02pm
      Hhmmm said | May 12th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

      Welcome to the reality of “professional services” income. Accounts , doctors and lawyers etc have had to deal with this forever . Any money earned using your professional skill is taxed and there is a minimum expected return to ATO . Professional athletes have a short run at making money do they can argue against this but for the life of me I don’t understand why this doesn’t apply to all others . If you are a tradesman or builder you can still incorporate and minimize your tax, professionals cannot.

    • May 12th 2018 @ 8:39pm
      lesterlike said | May 12th 2018 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

      Whatever, it was a dodgy loophole anyway.

      Football will be fine, fans here know players go to better leagues when they are good enough and if anything, this will hopefully end this marquee obsession from the FFA and Sydney Media that the game has moved on from.

      It’s rugby that will struggle with it’s archaic domestic selection policy and delusion that it can compete with Europe.

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