Golf & Taxes

It all started in mid-June of 2011, when representatives from the National Allied Golf Associations (NAGA) took to Parliament Hill to comment on the release of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s new budget and advocate for bringing tax fairness to the game of golf in Canada.

As first reported by my friend Scott Macleod, the editor of Flagstick, due to a 1971 tax reform, the Canada Revenue agency does not allow deductions for expenses incurred by business people who choose to entertain clients at a golf course. And yet, a corporate box rental at a sports arena, other client gifts, and annual dues to a business club can be deducted 100%.

There is a disconnect between recreational activities, and a group on the Hill, led by NDP MP Randall Garrison is looking to change that.

In combination with an all-party caucus and the NAGA lobbying efforts, a private member’s bill has been put forth by Garrison titled An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Golfing Expenses).

Jeff Calderwood, the NAGA government relations spokesperson, said in a press release shortly after the budget was released, that “the golf industry in Canada suffers from an outdated 40-year-old tax policy that singles out golf businesses in an unfair manner.”

Someone like Minister Flaherty will of course argue that there are more pressing matters at hand than the request to have golf become tax deductible, but the fact of the matter is, there is evidence and documentation pulled together that golf is actually Canada’s most played recreational sport.

Canada is home to approximately six million golfers, and 2500 golf courses and practice ranges. The game of golf accounts for an $11.3 billion contribution to the GDP each year. Not to mention being responsible for nearly 350,000 jobs for Canadians equating to about $7.6 billion in household income. The gross revenues are actually more than all ski facilities, fitness, sports centres, amusement parks, and other recreational industries combined.

This is not a flash-in-the-pan lobbying effort by a handful of radicals on a niche topic. Golf matters to Canadians of all income levels and is no longer a game for just a small portion of society.

Instead of being lumped into the group of ‘illicit escort services’ getting a zero per cent tax deduction, it should be grouped in with other sporting events and client services. More often than not, four hours on a golf course is where deals are made or broken.

The closeness of only four people for that amount of time will usually result in business talk. Talk that is not always guaranteed while sitting in a box at a sporting event.

Inspired by a similar post from Bob Weeks, editor at ScoreGolf magazine,  I’ve written a note to my Member of Parliament John Carmichael, bringing forth the efforts of the NAGA and others.

It’s important to notice that the golf industry, from what I’ve read, is not looking for special treatment, but instead looking for an increase in fairness when it comes to business deductions.

How the powers-at-be decided what could or could not be included in that bucket was a decision made long before my time, but, I’m happy knowing that I can perhaps play a small part in a change today.

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If you’re a golfer and would like to contact your MP, NAGA has pulled together a handy kit to get you started. You can find it here –

http://canadagolfs.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Advocacy-Kit-NAGA-20124.pdf

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