Australian Rules players striving to spread the game in New Zealand are classed as entertainers and the taxation department is reaching into their pockets.

It was a competition game and the Australian Rules players were playing their guts out, but the New Zealand taxman thinks it’s all a bit of a lark and that’ll be $1200 thanks.

St Kilda, Sydney and Brisbane players have been forced to stump up some of their match payment for the Anzac Day games played in Wellington over the past two years.

Saints have a five-year deal to expand the sport in New Zealand, but Inland Revenue Department officials don’t think the sport is worth classifying as a competition yet.

Visiting sports people are regarded as non-resident entertainers and the Double Taxation Agreement between New Zealand and Australia provides that New Zealand has the right to tax their income, an IRD spokeswoman told NZ Newswire in a statement.

Exemptions are made for trans-Tasman competitions such as Super Rugby, NRL and the A-League.

“In respect to the AFL game the players were participating in exhibition games rather than a regular Trans-Tasman competition. Therefore the DTA exemption does not apply,” the spokeswoman said.

IRD would not comment on the amount of money involved.

However, Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper reports it has seen a tax bill for one match of $1200.

The AFL brought in accountants which saw the players reimbursed with tax credits in Australia, which meant the Australian government ultimately wore the cost gained by New Zealand.

St Kilda makes about $500,000 a game from its New Zealand partnership, the paper reports.