THE statutory five per cent cess or tax that athletes pay to their federations worldwide, which has for years been waived by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), is being seriously reviewed, according to President Dr Warren Blake.
“It is something that the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) allows us to take from the athletes and it is something that is there and it is something we may consider,” Dr Blake told the Jamaica Observer’s Monday Exchange yesterday.
“Some associations run... off the earnings of the cess, but we will not do that. But if we do decide to take it, it will be put back in the pool to help to pay for insurance and... pension for the athletes. This is something that we’re considering,” Dr Blake noted.
That five per cent cess from all the athletes’ earnings would definitely be more than enough to run the JAAA successfully, but it’s only a thought for now.
However, the idea of implementing the tax might meet serious resistance from athletes who cannot afford it, or those whose cess might run into millions of dollars.
“In the past we shied away from it because we knew the background of the athletes,” said Vilma Charlton, the JAAA’s third vice-president.
Michael Frater, a current athlete who was elected the fourth vicepresident, said: “Not everyone is in the same boat. We have two or three athletes making a significant amount… Usain Bolt makes millions, but the normal athletes make nothing close to what he is making.”
Meanwhile, first vice-president Dave Myrie said there may be three or four athletes doing very well, but there are over 50 athletes struggling to get there.
“The majority of them don’t have it and even the ones who do, don’t want to feel like they are the ones being taxed the highest. So it’s one of those difficult scenarios. We must have fulsome discussion,” said Myrie, who is also principal of Kingston College.
Blake indicated that his organisation is in the black, so the use of the cess to run the organisation won’t be necessary for now. He said, however, the money would be used to help the athletes themselves in the long run.
When quizzed as to the financial status of the JAAA, Blake said: “Positive. We are in the black and we are at the beginning of the year and we still have our sponsorships coming, so we do manage better than some of the other sporting associations.”
According to the president, last year approximately $100m in expenses was spent on sending junior and senior teams overseas to various championships, but that was offset by sponsorship and revenues gained from the staging of local meets.