According to accountants Baker Tilly, with the start of the cricket season upon us, the taxman is stepping up its efforts to collect tax from local cricket clubs, which are generally run by enthusiastic amateurs to provide sporting opportunities for their local community.
The attitude of HMRC officers seems to be that every player who is paid by the club ‘must be' an employee and, therefore, PAYE will apply to all relevant payments.
Mike Down, head of tax risk and investigation management group at Baker Tilly, said: "By charging penalties, HMRC is making no allowance for the fact that these are members clubs run by solely by volunteers who love the game and are unlikely to be used to defending the complexities of the tax legislation. For the club to fund say £5,000 to £10,000 of past PAYE is tough enough, but with a penalty on top this could well tip these clubs over the edge. Innings closed. Permanently."
It had been hoped HMRC would focus on educating local cricket clubs to help them get their tax obligations right in the future. However, the accountants are finding that as well as pursuing past years' tax liabilities, HMRC is pressurising clubs with references to seeking six years back tax, and charging penalties leaving them well and truly stumped.
Down added: "It could be suggested that HMRC is bowling a no ball in using the lack of specialist tax expertise at these local clubs to ensure that the maximum amount of tax is paid rather than, the stated aim of HMRC, that the right amount of tax is paid. It's like dobbing a batsman without warning him that he's setting off too early - it's just not cricket.
"Surely it is not HMRC's intention to force these community-based clubs to close, but they are taking a ‘wicket to wicket' approach with the clubs which could well put them under such a financial strain that they will be bowled out."
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