For the fourth time, Revenue Canada is checking out curling cashspiel earnings as possible taxable income.
The previous three times, its investigation ended with those winnings remaining tax-free.
Ontario's Wayne Middaugh was the latest to be notified that he might have to pay taxes on what he won over the last three years, the Toronto Sun reported yesterday. And the World Curling Players' Association has already been trying to help him for the last couple of months.
"This has come up before, and nothing's happened," Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton, the top Manitoban on the cashspiel list, said yesterday. He has not received such notification himself.
Alberta's Kevin Martin was assessed twice during the last eight years, but he turned it over to an accountant, and that was the last he heard of it. Alberta's Paul Gowsell fought off the tax man more than 20 years ago when he proved that teams' expenses would actually cost the government money as deductions.
"The teams losing money far out-weigh those making money, and they can write off a lot of expenses," Stoughton said.
But if Revenue Canada was to start taxing curlers' winnings, it would kill the World Curling Tour, Stoughton said.
"It's a tough call, because whatever event you enter, you're playing for your own money," he said, referring to teams' entry fees. "And if they start taxing it, who's going to play?"
According to the WCT website, Stoughton's squad has earned $57,750 this season (excluding Skins Game proceeds) but has paid about $35,000 in expenses. That would leave about $22,000 to be taxed, split between four team members, or about $5,500 each.
Middaugh's team reportedly earned between $300,000 and $400,000 over the last three years, but not even Revenue Canada could nail down the exact amount.
"What we're trying to do now is track down the precedent that was set with Kevin Martin and go from there," Middaugh said.
David Hurl, a spokesperson from the Minister of National Revenue, told the Toronto Sun that any professional sports winnings are taxable but is not allowed to discuss a specific case.