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CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT

DATES FOR YOUR 2008 DIARY

Club Secretaries will have in their minds - and hopefully in their diaries - the dates by which certain returns and applications will have to be made. I hope the following check list will assist Clubs in carrying out this useful exercise.

Club Premises Certificate

All Clubs are now in possession of a Club Premises Certificate granted under the Licensing Act 2003. Whilst there is no specific renewal date of a Club Premises Certificate in the same way as the previous Registration Certificates, it is necessary for an annual fee to be paid to the local Licensing Authority in order for the Club Premises Certificate to remain in force. Therefore, look out for any renewal invoice received from your local Licensing Authority and ensure that it is paid promptly.

We are continuing our quest for there to be a unilateral renewal date which coincides with the anniversary of the Licensing Act coming into force. We shall keep trying!

Performing Right Society & Phonographic Performances Ltd

The PRS and PPL Licences need to be renewed each year. These Licences cover different types of copyright payable for playing any type of music within the Club.

There are two types of licence required to be paid to the PPL depending on whether the Club plays background music or uses recorded music at a dance or discotheque or similar function. In the case of the latter, the fee is on a sliding scale basis.

In January, fees are payable to the PRS. These payments are fixed under an Agreement with the PRS and the appropriate fee for a Club is calculated according to the type of music used. There is often confusion between the licences of the PPL and PRS but, as a general rule, if a Club has music it must have both of these respective licences.

Gaming Machines

The Gambling Act 2005 which came into force on 1 st September 2007, replaced Part III Gaming Machine Registration Certificates with Club Gaming Machine Permits. These new Permits have the same expiry date as a Club's previous Registration Certificate. Club Secretaries must therefore check and make a careful note of the expiry date. For most Clubs the renewal year will be 2010, but this will not necessarily be the case for all Clubs.

Clubs making application to their Local Authorities before the stated expiry date will automatically qualify for renewal.

Audits

Clubs registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act or the Friendly Societies Acts must submit an Annual Return to the Financial Services Authority no later than the date required under the terms of the Club's particular Rules. Failure to comply may result in prosecution. Such Clubs must also ensure the annual fee is paid, the amount of which depends upon the Club's assets.

Clubs which are incorporated as companies must ensure that their company returns are made to Companies House by the agreed submission date in order to avoid fines and must also ensure that their Accounts are filed.

Unincorporated Members' Clubs are not required to submit annual returns or to file Accounts with any outside body.

In addition to the above, please make a note of the date for VAT returns, insurance renewal and the Club's TV licence.

Steward's Accommodation: Taxable Benefits

Recent inquiries from a n umber of Clubs have prompted me to write, this month, on steward's accommodation and taxable benefits.

Stalwart committee members will know the rules on this but some new members - and new committees - may find the subject daunting.

A large proportion of our Clubs employ stewards who occupy residential accommodation which is provided as part of the employment package.

Over the years it has been made clear, in articles such as this, that it is essential, when dealing with employees who benefit from free accommodation, that any form of tenancy is avoided. Consequently, no money should be either received, or deducted, from such employees that could, in any view, be regarded as rent. Club committees MUST, therefore, ensure that all employees who benefit from living accommodation do so as "service occupiers."

An employee who occupies the Club's property for the better performance of his, or her, duties, who is contractually required to do so, and pays no rent, is a "service occupier" and has no security of tenure.

Such occupation ceases on termination of employment - even if the termination is, subsequently, deemed to be unfair.

The risk of tenancy will not apply to monies which are either deducted, or charged, in respect of the provision of heat and light, unless, of course, the contract specifically states that the provision of heat and light is free.

Some Clubs, and stewards, have been shocked to discover that the supply of free heating and lighting, provided by the Club, is regarded by H.M. Revenue and Customs as a taxable benefit.

The fact is that this has always been accepted practice but, in recent years, the authorities have pursued such matters more rigorously.

Declaration

The correct position is this: the Club should include in its annual return to H.M.R.C. a declaration that it supplies free heat and light to the steward.

The steward should include the information in his, or her, own annual income tax return.

The declaration for payment for water is a "grey area." Some tax offices include this as a taxable benefit while others view the provision of water as part of the provision of the accommodation which, in itself, is not taxable.

Council Tax

From 1993 to 1998 the A.C.C., together with other national club organisations and, indeed, several tax inspectors, advised clubs that when Council Tax is paid on a residential steward's accommodation by the club, this payment must be considered as a taxable benefit and should be declared on the steward's tax form - PI 1 D.

In fact the payment of Council Tax is NOT a taxable benefit. Some clubs had to make back-dated payments of tax on behalf of stewards when payment of Council Tax had not been declared while, in many cases, club stewards had themselves been paying tax on the benefit of having the Council Tax on their accommodation paid by the club.

In the event of being challenged in respect of Council Tax payments, clubs should quote "Expenses and Benefits Tax Guide, 21.4, Section 145(4)". The relevant section of the Guide reads:

"...no tax charges in respect of the provision of living accommodation will arise where
(a) it is necessary for the proper performance of the employee's duties that he, or she, should reside in the accommodation or
(b) the accommodation is provided for the better performance of the employee's duties and the employment is one of the kinds for which it is customary for employers to provide accommodation for the employee; or
(c) there is a special threat to the employee's security, special security arrangements are in force and the employee resides in the accommodation as part of those arrangements.

"Where exemption is due in any of the above circumstances iit also extends to any tax charge that might arise in respect of council tax reimbursed to, or paid on behalf of, the employee concerned."

National Insurance

Clubs are reminded to ensure that National Insurance contributions are adjusted to take into account increased payments of income tax due to taxable benefits. This
will, of course, affect both the employee's, and the employer's, contributions.

Again, in the past, National Insurance Inspectors have not always been active in this particular area, but many clubs have been asked to complete and return information on the taxable benefits and if National Insurance Contributions have not been adjusted to meet these increased payments, then backdated payments will be applied.

National Insurance contributions are calculated on gross pay, and, therefore, benefits which are not taxable, such as the provision of accommodation and the payment of council tax, will not be included within the calculation.