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Seems we aren't the only target of HMRC


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SPL referees are being chased by the taxman as part of the massive football finance probe which sparked a £70million battle with Rangers.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs officials are investigating 13 top-flight whistlers over allegations they diddled the public purse.

The shock move comes just over a month after Gers were placed on the brink over their disputed tax debt.

An insider told The Scottish Sun: "There is no doubt that the taxman is coming after football — and now the referees are in his sights.

"This is definitely coming off the back of the Rangers crisis.

"The referees are obviously getting a bit twitchy.

"There has obviously been enough evidence to get the interest of the tax people.

"It's believed HMRC has seen a pattern emerging and decided to widen the net."

The 13 senior refs will be quizzed by HMRC officials.

The whistlers face allegations that some failed to declare income from European fixtures, which can earn them up to £1,000 a time.

They are also suspected of manipulating expenses by travelling to games together — but claiming separate mileage.

Bizarrely, part of the wrangle is whether items such as suits, gym membership and even shampoo is tax deductible.

The HMRC investigation could go back YEARS.

The revelations emerged in a leaked email from referees' union chief John McKendrick to many of the 28 Category 1 refs.

The message — dated March 1 — outlines crunch talks between the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association and the tax authorities.

It begins: "As with previous memos, this note has only been forwarded to Cat 1 referees, as the HMRC enquiries only pertain to some of the current Cat 1 referees (13 to be precise)."

It goes on: "HMRC's initial position on whether expenses are allowable is based on their assessment of the tax submissions of 13 referees... so far nothing is resolved.

"The tax cases under consideration will not be progressed until further discussion has taken place between SSFRA and HMRC."

The email then adds: "HMRC did ask that we drew the following to the attention of our members.

"HMRC consider that there has been under-reporting of income from European appointments.

"All money received should be reported (income and all expenses)."

The message warned refs they could face fines on top of monies owed if they've breached tax laws.

The officials were also ordered not to claim petrol costs from the SFA if they are given a lift to a game by a colleague.

It continues: "HMRC raised the issue of car sharing.

"Regardless of whether the SFA pay us an expenses allowance for travel to matches, HMRC will only allow expenses for car journeys against income if we are the driver."

Our insider said whistlers can earn a whopping £19,000 a season from officiating at SPL and First Division games — and can top that up with European matches.

They said: "If you take 20 SPL games at roughly £800 over those 12 months then that is £16,000.

"Then you could do 15 First Division games at around £200 which would give you another £3,000.

"That could take a basic annual wage to around £19,000 — and then there are the expenses on top of that as well.

"And I am not even taking European games into this equation."

Last night Mr McKendrick, whose organisation negotiates pay deals and conditions for top refs, confirmed the union was in talks with tax bosses.

But he claimed many whistlers may end up being OWED dosh from the public purse because they could have overpaid.

Mr McKendrick said: "We initiated contact with tax specialists and HMRC to give guidance to our members.

"We did this because we are self-employed and there has never been any formal guidance. We therefore enlisted a solicitor so that we can provide the right advice.

"We are also involved in really fruitful discussions with HMRC.

"It would also be inappropriate to comment on the affairs of individual referees." He added: "It costs a lot of money to maintain your status as a referee.

"We feel very strongly that referees should pay their taxes — no more and no less.

"It is likely referees are under-claiming rather than over-claiming. I would believe a lot of them are actually out of pocket.

"So, far from scamming the tax man, it's as likely to be the other way about."

Last night tax chiefs declined to talk about the probe into the 13 referees.

A spokesman for HMRC said: "We cannot comment on the tax affairs of businesses or individuals due to confidentiality."

An SFA spokesman added: "We are aware the SSFRA are in pro-active discussions with HMRC."

scottish-sun@the-sun.co.uk

Read more: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/4232746/Refs-in-tax-fiddle-probe.html#ixzz1qq5JbpGc

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