Saturday, April 5, 2008

More on the Tax Man

After yesterday’s story in the Globe about Wayne Middaugh’s tax problems, there have been a lot of questions raised, mostly on Let me answer a few in brief here:
 Middaugh didn’t claim any bonspiel winnings nor did he have the team run like a business in any formal way. As far as I know, like every curler, he just went along assuming bonspiel winnings would be tax free because the CRA would lose money on the deal with all the write offs. I don’t know of any curler who has ever claimed cashspiel earnings.
 There is some speculation that someone went to the CRA and “squealed” on Middaugh which started this entire episode. That person, by the way, is not a curler and has nothing to do with curling. That is an unproven allegation and Middaugh doesn’t really know anything about that. It was information provided to me by a third party.
 In the past, the CRA has said that is would only allow expenses to be claimed by teams that “had a legitimate chance at winning prize money.” So every Tom, Dick and Harry can’t enter a spiel and claim the expenses, according to the agency. I’m not sure how they’d make that distinction.
 In a previous life, I used to work for the Ontario Lottery Corporation (now called the OLGC) and in the CRA, lottery winnings are not the same as bonspiel winnings because lottery winnings are earned by chance where as curling winnings are gained by skill.
 No other curlers have been tagged, but it’s expected this could be a precedent-setting case, if rumours are true.
 Wendy Kane from the WCT was contacted to comment on the story but she never returned my call. In my mind, the PA HAS to take up this case and go as far as possible with it or the cashspiel scene and the Grand Slams will change drastically.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Taxman Cometh

Here's my latest Globe story. The paper decided to move it to the news section, which is an interesting spot for it.

I've actually known about this predicament for some time but Middaugh wouldn't comment on it until he'd exhausted all his avenues of appeal. That came last Friday. Not sure what happens next but you have to wonder if the CRA will come after other curlers. I've heard through the grapevine that more than a few are a little nervous.

I'm also a little surprised the WCPA/Tour hasn't come to the financial defense of Middaugh and the boys as that would seem to be precisely the thing for which it was created.

One thing I found out that isn't in the story is that this won't affect any Sport Canada funding. The Athlete Assistance Plan doesn't stop if a player earns money or is a professional. Athletes in beach volleyball, tennis and basketball are all professional and all get AAP money (rest easy Jennifer Jones and Kevin Martin). Athletes are allowed to turn down the money, so when the NHL players make the Olympic team, they opt out as they simply don't need the money.

I think this is probably just the start of this story.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brier to Toronto with MLSE support in major deal

The Brier is coming to Toronto. Word late last night came to me that the CCA has announced Toronto as the site of the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier. What’s more, thanks to an arrangement with uber-sports group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Canadian men’s curling championship will be coming to Toronto on a regular basis.
The deal, to be announced later this week, will see the Brier held in Toronto on even years through 2020. The championship will be held at the Air Canada Centre in 2010 with it moving to the Ricoh Coliseum after that. MLSE has the option to move back to the ACC if it sees fit.

MLSE, which owns the Leafs, Raptors and soccer club Toronto FC, has been hoping to add more sports franchises to its stable and believes it can make the Brier run in Canada’s largest city. It has reportedly guaranteed the CCA $2 million for each year of hosting. The arrangement also sees MLSE put up a $5 million payment on signing the deal. The CCA board is apparently ecstatic with that as it will allow it to get out of debt.

One source said MLSE originally wanted a five-year consecutive deal, but the CCA declined saying it still needed to take the event to other locales in Canada.
With the deal, the CCA gets security and MLSE gets some continuity to build on. Its marketing power in the Toronto area makes it possible to sell the event to corporate Canada.

“We see this as a huge opportunity,” said Lawrence Christbaum of MLSE. “Curling is a growth sport with the Olympics and we believe we can make it work in Toronto.”
Whether the Toronto community will support this is another matter, but with MLSE behind it, it’s a good start.