Tax exemption for hunts: Minister Cowen questioned
20 October 2005
ICABS Vice-president, Tony Gregory TD, has asked the Minister for Finance to clarify what constitutes a sport for the purposes of the Taxes Consolidation Act. This follows the sickening revelation that several hunts are currently enjoying tax exemption under Section 235 of the Act. The text of the Dail Q&A appears below.
Dail Question & Answer
Question 89 - Answered on 13th October 2005
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Finance the areas in which the Revenue Commissioners grant tax exemptions to sporting groups; if the definition of sport is that as outlined in section 25 of the Finance Act 1932; and if this definition will be followed when deciding on qualifying activities for the purposes of a tax exemption under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. [28509/05]
Minister for Finance (Mr Brian Cowen): Section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 governs the operation of the tax exemptions provided in the case of sporting bodies. The provisions of that section are administered by the Revenue Commissioners. Section 235 provides tax relief upon the income of any body of persons established for and existing for the sole purpose of promoting athletic or amateur games or sports. Relief from capital gains tax and dividend withholding tax is also provided for under the Taxes Consolidation Act. Two categories of sports bodies are embraced by the provision: a body promoting an athletic game or athletic sport; and a body promoting an amateur game or amateur sport.
Section 25 of the Finance Act 1932 was an amendment to the Finance (New Duties) Act 1916 which provided for the charging of a since defunct excise duty on specific entertainments. That has no relevance to the tax exemption provisions in the case of sporting organisations and is therefore not followed when determining which bodies qualify for the relief.
In addition, a scheme was introduced in 2002 whereby tax relief is available on donations to approved sports bodies for approved capital projects similar to the tax relief in place in respect of donations to charities. This relief is aimed at providing support to sports bodies around the country that are engaged in projects of a capital nature such as the construction or refurbishment of sports facilities. There are currently some 1,500 tax exempted sports bodies, a full list of which is published on the Revenue website www.revenue.ie under publications/lists of bodies and organisations that qualify for relief - No. 17.
Hunters granted tax exemption
ICABS has learned that several hunting and shooting groups are currently enjoying exemption from tax.
This sickening revelation appears on the Irish Revenue's website in a list of 1,492 sporting bodies granted tax exemption under Section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
As of August 2005, this list contains seven hunts and three gun clubs. The hunts are: Carbery Hunt, County Limerick Hunt Club, Fingal Harrier Hunt, Laois Hunt Club Limited, Shillelagh And District Hunt Club Limited, The Island Hunt Limited and United Hunt Club. The gun clubs are: Clare Gun Club, Skibbereen & District Gun Club and St Hugh's Gun Club.
In an email to ICABS, a Revenue spokesperson confirmed that all were exempt from tax. They qualified for the exemption, he said, because they are "established for and exist for the sole purpose of promoting an athletic or amateur game or sport and their entire income is applied solely for that purpose".
According to related Revenue documents, games and sports bodies may be eligible for exemption from Income Tax, Corporation Tax and Dividend Withholding Tax. Relief from Capital Gains is also available on gains made by sports bodies.
No definition is given in the Taxes Consolidation Act to clarify what constitutes games or sports. However, in a letter to the Irish Revenue, ICABS pointed to the Finance Act, 1932 which appears to define them as being "ordinarily played or contested out-of-doors by two or more persons or by two or more groups of persons and [which] do not involve the use or participation of horses, dogs, or other animals or the use of mechanically propelled vehicles".
ICABS is disgusted that among those enjoying tax exemption are groups involved in terrorising and killing Irish wildlife. We have urged the Revenue Commissioners to stop giving consideration to such applications.
Please join us in appealing to the Revenue Commissioners to disregard future applications from any group involved in killing animals for sport.