10 responses

  1. human
    October 5, 2006

    Interesting stuff. While I can sympathize to an extent, especially regarding the referee situation (my understanding is this is a common way to do business for referees) it’s… well… limited. Because I don’t have a whole lot of nice feelings for people who screw around with the definition of “independent contractor” – yes, it saves the league money on payroll taxes and probably insurance, too; but this is at the expense of the so-called contractor (who is responsible for his own payroll taxes and insurance). A soccer coach does not meet the definition of an independent contractor. If you are told when to show up for work, you are not an independent contractor. You can’t coach a game at any old time. Nor can you hold practice when you feel like it. Paid coaches are employees.

    As for the ref situation – again, a little sympathy, because I understand this is a traditional way of handling things in some areas. But when all this money is changing hands, why take a risk? and I don’t mean just with the IRS. If the referee assignor cannot tell you who did a game, you have a problem. The youth league I played in paid its referees every few weeks by check. If they could handle the recordkeeping, then these big ol’ modern non-redneck leagues can manage it.

  2. Soccer Dad
    October 5, 2006

    For coaches, yes – I agree 100%. However the referee issue is different. We also pay our referees by check every few weeks. For recreational matches. They report to us, we schedule them, we control them. But travel matches are much much different which I tried to highlight above.

    Consider this. My son’s team plays in a city an hour away. The opponent’s league is responsible for getting a referee via THEIR assignor. We have nothing to do with it and have no control over it. However we owe half the fees due the referees, thus pay the referee in cash. Its not done through our assignor, it’s done via the other league’s assignor.

    Considering we play 5 away matches per team, we could have to track down inforamtion via dozens of assignors from dozens of leagues in addition to the home match info we can easily get from our own assignor.

    Now perhaps in this case, you treat the home refs as employees, though as a league we have no say in WHO works, we just rely on the assignor to schedule referees from his/her pool – and they are not tied to our league – they can work for multiple leagues via the same assignor. But perhaps you still treat them as employees and the away refs as independant contractors.

    I know many organizatiosn try to save a few bucks by abusing the designation of independant contractor. but in this case, the travel refs really don’t report to the league. They report to the state referee’s association and their assignor who can decide if they get scheduled for matches or not. Now you coudl say that the assignor is a league official and thus the refs report to the league, but that woudl be incorrect. The assignors are geographically based – multiple leagues will utilize an assignor and their pool of referes.

    As you can see – it can be quite fuzzy.

  3. human
    October 5, 2006

    Hmm, I see what you are saying. Why not just have the league that hosts the game foot the bill for the ref fees? Every team is playing some home matches and some away, right? It would more or less even out. Or, have the leagues whose travel teams play each other pay into a fund. Or, have the home league pay and then have the away team’s league cut a check to the home team’s league later.

  4. Soccer Dad
    October 5, 2006

    The first option is tricky because not all seasons and teams will have an equal amount of home and away matches for a variety of reasons. They try to ensure everyone has an equal number, but you can’t ensure that. So it wouldn’t be fair to some leagues to foot a bigger part of the referee bill because they had more fields available than smaller leagues, etc.

    Paying into a fund might work, but adds a level of administration. You could pay the assignor up from for the matches worked and have them handle the payroll, but that would significantly add to their burden, resulting in them having to charge MUCH more for their services and raising the cost for everyone (leagues handling it spreads the load, etc)

    Cutting a check to the other league would be a nightmare – turning some leagues into bill collectors trying to collect fees from other leagues. Not sure it would matter in the eyes of the IRS or not.

    Good suggestions, but in the fun world of youth soccer, things can be a real pain due to the number of different leagues involved.

  5. LegalEagle
    October 5, 2006

    A suggestion for the travel refs. Don’t all 3 refs sign match reports? If the ref association would require a SSN or TaxID before issuing certification, and allow leagues to report income paid, it would be possible to track this way. It would require some additional manpower and paperwork for the State associations and the regional leagues (and make fees increase), but there is a system in place to make this work (the match report system). All Challenge leagues may not currently require the entry of ref names into the system when scores are reported, but they could change this. I seem to recall from years ago, when I managed my son’s team, the refs all had to sign the match report.

  6. New Financial Director
    January 19, 2007

    I have just taken on the Financial Director position for a Not For Profit soccer league.
    I do not carry a CPA, but I do have a good financial process background. Our league does not have paid Coaches, so we do not seem to have a problem here. When I looked at the common practice of cash payment to the Ref.’s I was astonished. Years back they would have been below the $600 annual figure, but year after year the Ref.Assignor and the Ref.’s association continually increase fees to ref. the games. Several years ago the bookkeeper decided to issue 1099′s to the Ref’s, and there was a complete backlash that there would be no Ref.’s available for our games. The poor chap was forced to backtrack the issue. The Ref.’s and the Assignors threatened not to provide any services to the league anymore.
    The league does not want to get into any trouble with the IRS as they are Not For Profit, and any pennalty would kill the organisation made up of 100% volunteers (not paid at all). The league really believes that the Ref.Assignors and the Ref.’s they assign have real control over our League. You try putting together a league schedule without the guarantee of ref.’s, and you will see thousands of disgruntled soccer players looking for a refund immediately. We are forced to continue the status quo. So do not tell me that the Ref.’s assignors and Ref.’s are controlled by the League. My opinion is that it is the opposite. The simple fact is that you can not put on a sanctioned event without using sanctioned Referees. The League does not control the pool of sanctioned referees, and there is no other Ref’s available. Talk about job protection. This is the dream of any labour group to be able to have this kind of Union influence without it being officially called a Union!
    My vote is for the IRS to penalize the Referee Assignors and the Referee association, not the Leagues who are the victims!
    Just my 2 cents.

  7. New Financial Director
    January 19, 2007

    I wonder if this is what the IRS would call “Guilt by association” or should I say Ref. association.

  8. Soccer Dad
    January 19, 2007

    Very interesting. We don’t expect to try and cut 1099′s for our travel refs (the ones paid in cash at the fields) which are handled by a referee assignor that isn’t tied directly to our league. However for our recreational division, we may just bite the bullet and treat them as employees because it so much easier t have direct control over the refs for Rec. But that also means an additional budget hit related to taxes, FICA, etc. There’s no telling. Even worse is the fees that some referee assignors demand – as high as $50/team.

  9. New Financial Director
    January 19, 2007

    Our assignors charge $7 per game, and with typically 10 games per season, the tally is $70 / 2 = $35 per team per season. Our league operates 4 seasons, and therefore that would come to $140 per team per year.
    Refs. are $50 for center, and $25 per line = $100 for Ref.’s per game.

    How badly are you being hosed?

  10. Soccer Dad
    January 19, 2007

    WOW – $50 for a center? At what level? Your ARs make more than our Rec centers! The state sets caps on ref fees for all our affiliated leagues. Here’s what the going rate per game is in NC currently (center/line) which is generally split across both teams:

    Recreation: from $24/$12 (U12 down) up to $38/$23 (U17 and up)
    Challenge: from $28/$15 (U12 down) up to $44/$29 (U17 and up)
    Classic: from $32/$18 (U12 down) up to $50/$35 (U17 and up)

    The recreation fees are caps – many associations pay a bit less than that (we pay $20/$10 I believe with a slight bonus if you’re certified) I think the rates we have in NC are fair – reffing at the upper levels is intense and that $50 is well earned most of the time. Plus dealing with abusive parents can often make that $35 seem not worth it!

    Since the bulk of our matches are U12 and below, few of our matches pay more than $32 to a center.

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