Friday 27 June 2003
OLYMPIC ATHLETES WIN TAX CASE
A decision by the Full Bench of the Federal Court has saved struggling Olympic athletes from paying thousands of dollars in back taxes.
The Court today upheld an appeal by the Australian Olympic Committee which had argued athletes should not be taxed on AOC grants, sponsorships and prizemoney.
The AOC funded a test case based around Queensland javelin thrower Joanna Stone after the :devil:Australian Tax Office ruled that athletes were in the “business of sport” and should pay tax.
Stone, a policewoman in Queensland, sought the help of the AOC after the Tax Office deemed funding and prizemoney she received in 1998/99 was taxable.
The three judges in the Federal Court ruled there was no basis to argue the grants she received or the prizemoney she won constituted assessable income.
The Court ruled the grants were made to enable her to bear additional costs including training and coaching expenses, apparel, sports gear, and travel.
In particular the Full Bench disagreed with the primary judge’s decision that payments under the AOC’s Medal Incentive Scheme were income.
The case had ramifications for thousands of athletes who had received millions of dollars in funding from the AOC in the four years leading up to the Sydney Olympics.
The AOC President John Coates said today “we felt we had an obligation to protect our athletes many of whom give up promising careers to pursue their Olympic dream”.
“I must congratulate the AOC Executive Board for pressing on with an appeal after we lost the first case, but we felt the ATO decision was unfair and we were prepared to argue strenuously against it” he said.
“The vast majority of our athletes don’t earn a lot of money and we felt it wrong to force them to pay tax on those earnings” Coates said.
“The initial judgment had serious ramifications for athletes in all other sports and I am hoping the Federal Court will now set some guidelines and give athletes peace of mind and let them concentrate on playing sport” .
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT MIKE TANCRED AT THE AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE 0412 330274