The Irish Rugby Football Union has welcomed the recommendations by the Commission on Taxation to retain Section 480A Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (relief for sportspersons) in today’s published report.
The ability of the IRFU to retain the top professional players in the country was aided by the portion of the Act that allowed professional sports people to claim tax relief on their earnings in Ireland over a 10-year period of their careers.
The retention of the top professional players, allowing their welfare and coaching to be controlled centrally by the provinces and the IRFU, has been fundamental to the success and growth of professional rugby in the last decade and the significant economic benefit which successful Irish provincial and national teams have brought to the national and local economies, something outlined by the commission in the report.
The commission also indicated the social rewards harvested by successful sports persons remaining in Ireland as positive role models for younger generations, something that the growth and success of the professional game has illustrated through the enhanced participation levels in schools and clubs all around the country.
Commenting on the recommendations, IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: “Keeping the top professional players in Ireland has always been a key strategic aim of Irish Rugby to maintain a competitive structure at both provincial and international level.
“The increasing level of wages that we have seen in the game over the last number of years makes this gradually more difficult.
“In addition to the other support mechanisms in place in Ireland, the sports person’s tax relief scheme was a key consideration for players when making decisions on professional contracts.
“By remaining in Ireland they could avail of this scheme and in turn, both the provincial and Ireland teams benefited from retaining the best players.
“The economic effects are also evident as success on the field has not only benefited Irish rugby in terms of funding and developing the game, but has by moderate estimates had hugely positive effects on the Irish economy through activities associated with games.
“When taken into account with the constructive effect that sport has on young people, the continuation of this is an important factor in the future of the game and also much welcomed economic activity.”