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Motorcycle sponsorship tax deduction ruling

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A public ruling, 2005/284, was made by the Australian Taxation Office on September 29, 2005, relating to deductions and expenses incurred in the sponsorship of motorcycle racing. The new ruling replaces 2002/187, which has now been withdrawn. 2005/284 reads, in part, as follows: Issue
Can the taxpayer claim an income tax deduction under section 8-1 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) for expenses incurred in sponsoring motor cycle racing? Decision
Yes. The taxpayer is entitled to claim an income tax deduction for expenses incurred in sponsoring motor cycle racing under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997. Facts
The taxpayer operates a business. The taxpayer intends to sponsor motor cycle racing in the belief that the exposure arising from the sponsorship will benefit his business in the form of advertising. The taxpayer will provide sponsorship for up to four motor cycle riders. This will include paying the day to day costs such as fuel, repairs, spare parts and safety clothing only. The motor cycles and a support vehicle as well as the clothing and caps worn by the riders will carry the taxpayer's business name. In addition, the taxpayer intends to hand out business cards at the motor cycle events to stimulate interest in his business through his position as sponsor of the sporting event. The taxpayer will not pay the costs of purchasing motorcycles. Reasons for Decision
Section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997 allows a deduction for all losses or outgoings to the extent that they are incurred in gaining or producing assessable income or are necessarily incurred in carrying on a business for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income. However, no deduction is allowed to the extent that the losses or outgoings are of a capital, private or domestic nature or are necessarily incurred in gaining or producing exempt income. Losses or outgoings are incurred in gaining or producing assessable income where they are 'incidental and relevant to that end' (Ronpibon Tin NL and Tongkah Compound NL v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1949) 78 CLR 47; (1949) 8 ATD 431; (1949) 4 AITR 236). Where a taxpayer is carrying on a business for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income, the commercial and practical implications of the term 'necessarily incurred' imply that voluntary expenditure incurred for business needs may be deductible. It is the taxpayer who decides whether the expenditure 'is dictated by the business ends to which it is directed' (Federal Commissioner of Taxation v. Snowden & Willson Pty Ltd (1958) 99 CLR 431; (1958) 11 ATD 463; (1958) 7 AITR 308 (Snowden & Willson's Case). This was further supported in Magna Alloys & Research Pty Ltd v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1980) ATC 4542; (1980) 11 ATR 276, when the Court stated For practical purposes and within the limits of reasonable human conduct, it is for the man who is carrying on the business to be the judge of what outgoings are necessarily incurred. In this case, the taxpayer intends to provide sponsorship in the belief that the exposure from that sponsorship will benefit his business in the form of advertising and will generate future income. As it is the taxpayer who determines the nature of the expenditure to be undertaken in the conduct of their business (Snowden & Willson's Case) the expenses associated with the taxpayer's sponsorship of motor cycle racing are deductible under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997. They are in the nature of advertising expenses and are directed to enhance the income producing activities of the taxpayer's business and are not excluded on the basis of being capital or of a private or domestic nature. CAUTION: This record of an ATO decision may not include a complete statement of all facts in summarising the application of the relevant provision of the law to complex circumstances. If you rely on this decision and your circumstances are materially the same as those described, and the decision is subsequently found to be incorrect, penalties will not be attracted on the missing tax. However, interest could be payable in any event depending on the circumstances of the case. If the relevant provisions, being those in force at the date of decision, have been amended or rewritten, it will be necessary to have regard to the amended or rewritten law. You may wish to obtain further advice from the ATO or from a professional adviser.

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