The Government Autumn Spending Review, which was announced last week, includes changes to the regulations on sporting testimonials which will have an impact on county cricketers who are awarded a benefit or testimonial year in the future
The relevant section of the Spending Review states: “Following the consultation announced at Summer Budget 2015, the government will legislate to simplify the tax treatment of income from sporting testimonials.
From 6 April 2017, all income from sporting testimonials and benefit matches for employed sportspersons will be liable to income tax.
“In addition, an exemption of up to £50,000 will be available for employed sportspersons with income from sporting testimonials that are not contractual or customary.
"This legislation will apply where the sporting testimonial is granted or awarded on or after 25 November 2015, and only to events that take place after 5 April 2017.
“Separate legislation will be introduced before 6 April 2017 for the National Insurance treatment of this income which will follow the income tax treatment. (Finance Bill 2016).”
Jason Ratcliffe, the Assistant Chief Executive of the PCA, said: “While we understand minister and HMRC’s legal stand point for these changes we are disappointed that income from sporting testimonials will be liable to income tax from April 5 2017.
“The principle that benefits should be regarded as an expression of gratitude rather than a form of remuneration was established in 1927 when James Seymour, the Kent batsman, won an appeal in the High Court against a case brought by the Inland Revenue.
“Last week’s spending review made the first significant changes to the sporting testimonial regulations in almost 90 years.
“The PCA and England and Wales Cricket Board have been involved in discussions with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for some time and have been able to make representations which have helped to mitigate the impact of these changes by including the £50,000 threshold.
“It’s especially disappointing that from 2017 players who commit their time to a lifelong career of cricket from a very young age, won’t be able to benefit as many players have over the decades, or indeed for the cricketing public to demonstrate their appreciation and gratitude in the same way.
“We still await the full impact of the legislation and both PCA and ECB will continue to work closely with HMRC on this matter and to ensure we can advise and support our members on the implications of these changes.”