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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Tax treatment of Rugby footballers: general: arrangement of guidance

Until 1995, there was an important distinction between Rugby League football and Rugby Union football. Rugby League football was played by both amateurs (who were not paid for playing) and professionals (who were paid). Rugby Union football, on the other hand, was (or purported to be) exclusively amateur.

In 1995, the international governing body of Rugby Union football announced that the sport would become open. That is, that Rugby Union footballers could become overtly professional. In Great Britain and Ireland this change took effect from the beginning of the 1995/96 playing season. Since then Rugby Union players, like Rugby League players, may be either amateurs or professionals. Professional players will usually be engaged by their club under a contract of employment.

Guidance relating to the taxation of Rugby footballers is arranged as follows:

EIM64155 Types of payment
EIM64160 Signing-on fees after 1 January 1996
EIM64115 Share of transfer fee
EIM64120 Benefits and testimonials
EIM64140 Travelling expenses
EIM64145 Payments to amateur players

As regards payments to Association footballers, see EIM64100 onwards.