Measure will threaten clubs across North West, says MacSharry

Sligo News File Online.

Voluntary sports clubs could be facing major new taxes following changes moved by the government under the Valuation Act.

A Bill currently being steered through the Oireachtas by Minister of State, Simon Harris, provides that any club deriving income from the leasing or use of the premises for a commercial purpose stands to be hit with the full weight of commercial rates.

The Bill appears to indicate that a range of activities may be regarded as commercial, including crèches, small community promoted business start-ups and provision of space for meetings unconnected with the clubs defined activities.

Rates will be payable even where the survival of a club is heavily dependent on income from commercial usage or lettings.

Describing the move as “regressive”, Sligo Senator Marc MacSharry said the amendments being put forward by the government “will serve to threaten the future of sports clubs across the region.”

He said that the Valuation Act that his colleague Deputy Barry Cowan had put forward in the Dail was designed to reduce unfair rates by limiting charges to club premises served by a bar.

However, an amendment introduced by Minister of State Harris will, he said, “see sports clubs charged rates on income generated from areas other than membership fees.

“This could see organisations forced to pay commercial rates for renting out pitches or other facilities. It will place a massive financial burden on many hard-pressed clubs across this region, which are struggling to remain viable.

“While I believe that rates should be paid on the bar areas in clubs, the imposition of rates on other facilities, which are essential revenue raising tools right across the North West, goes too far.

“I am also concerned that the government is attempting to row back on its commitment to introduce a self-assessment model for rateable valuations. Considerable changes have been made to the self-assessment proposals, which dramatically alter the intended objectives which would have allowed businesses to set realistic valuations on properties for rates.”

Senator MacSharry said that despite promises to reform rates, the amendments to the act put forward by the government were “regressive, and will only serve to harm small businesses and threaten the future of sports clubs acoss the region”