Ral­ly4wales can’t avoid charg­ing VAT in new road clean­ing scheme

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Jack Benyon Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, chas­ingth­e­

En­try fees for crews com­pet­ing in Welsh Gov­ern­ment-run forests could still rise, as the newly formed Ral­ly4wales will have to charge VAT on its road clear­ing ser­vices for 2017.

A stale­mate was reached be­tween the UK motorsport gov­ern­ing body, the Mo­tor Sports As­so­ci­a­tion, and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales – which runs the forests owned by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment – over the costs of pre­par­ing and clean­ing roads after rallying events had taken place.

The Ral­ly4wales cam­paign was set up to take on the bur­den of clear­ing the roads, en­sur­ing fees would only rise by gov­ern­ment-fixed in­ter­est lev­els.

Now the costs have been ques­tioned, with clubs seek­ing ad­vice on VAT and how it will af­fect their en­try fees. Due to the way clubs are struc­tured, some will be able to claim the money back. The clubs that can’t will face an in­crease of as much as 20 per cent on en­try fees. For a £300 en­try fee, that would rise to £360.

Ral­ly4wales founder Jamie Ed­wards said: “It has been a very chal­leng­ing period for all par­ties as we have done a con­sid­er­able amount of work try­ing to re­solve and clar­ify where we and the clubs them­selves will stand on VAT.

“There are a wide-rang­ing num­ber of sce­nar­ios, but we are do­ing our ut­most to en­sure that the im­pact of VAT we must charge is min­imised where pos­si­ble. With VAT hav­ing not been a con­sid­er­a­tion on pre­vi­ous agree­ments this is clearly very new ground for the or­gan­is­ing clubs and we are mind­ful of the close prox­im­ity of the 2017 season.

“We are pleased to have con­cluded our ne­go­ti­a­tions with the MSA over the con­trac­tual mat­ters and we are now work­ing hard to en­sure that our ini­tial re­pair plans for events run­ning in early 2017 are signed off by Nat­u­ral Re­source Wales.”

VAT was not pre­vi­ously an is­sue as NRW was a gov­ern­ment sub­sidiary. So as a land owner it was ex­empt from VAT on re­pair­ing its own land. With Ral­ly4wales tak­ing over the road clean­ing, it’s deemed as a ser­vice and is tax­able.

It’s been a year dominated by bad news for Bri­tish rallying. Or so it feels like speak­ing to fans of the sport to­wards the back end of 2016.

There’s the Ral­ly4wales saga and whether Eng­land and Scot­land did badly out of the af­fair, with costs ris­ing in forests coun­try­wide. It feels like there’s less and less spec­ta­tors in rallying and that cov­er­age from gen­eral me­dia seems to be in de­cline. Then there’s the lack of closed-road events in the UK, still, and the in­creas­ing plight of front-wheel-drive cars forced to com­pete at the back of the field, guid­ing them into ruts and dam­ag­ing ma­chin­ery al­ready run on a shoe-string.

All th­ese items ca­pa­ble of form­ing a Te­len­ov­ela have all hap­pened and are true. And it feels like I’ve been go­ing on about them all year.

But the rally fan within me wants to re­mind you that, at least in terms of com­pe­ti­tion, 2016 had the mak­ings of a clas­sic.

Let’s start in Bri­tain. The Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship re­launched with over a mil­lion pounds worth of ma­chin­ery in ac­tion on some of the best stages in the coun­try in Mid Wales. The Bri­tish rallying com­mu­nity got out and sup­ported the na­tional cham­pi­onship, and if you’ve been fol­low­ing the cham­pi­onship’s so­cial me­dia feeds with its mo­ments of the year, it’s been a good one. Com­pe­ti­tion-wise El­fyn Evans may have been a shade too quick, but his com­pe­ti­tion will have im­proved for this year.

Then there’s the BTRDA; the series fea­tured crack­ing class bat­tles through­out its well-sup­ported cat­e­gories, and the Gold Star re­turned to form with a bat­tle down to the wire. The wise hand Char­lie Payne came out on top, ahead of young charger Luke Fran­cis’s Evo.

Speak­ing of young charg­ers, Garry Pearson took the Scot­tish cham­pi­onship down to the penul­ti­mate stage, and re­tired in heart­break­ing fash­ion. The pop­u­lar Jock Arm­strong took his sec­ond ti­tle in a row.

And last but not least, ar­guably the best of all. Turn to page 17 and you’ve got a cham­pi­onship that changed its rules for the 2016 season, the Ir­ish Tar­mac Cham­pi­onship. No one could have pre­dicted how pop­u­lar it would be, but dou­ble fig­ures in R5s is bet­ter than the cou­ple of spo­radic WRCS present in 2015. Credit to the or­gan­is­ers for mak­ing a de­ci­sion I wasn’t sure about in 2016, but it cer­tainly proved me wrong with four cars ca­pa­ble of win­ning the cham­pi­onship on the last stage no less.

And those are just some of the main cham­pi­onships, I’ve not even men­tioned the strength of cer­tain events like the Cir­cuit of Ire­land and Rally Isle of Man.

It’s easy to fo­cus on the neg­a­tives, but when it comes to com­pe­ti­tion, 2016 was one of the best in a while.

En­tries could rise by 20 per cent for Ral­ly4wales events

Some events can avoid VAT rise de­pend­ing on its struc­ture

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