Soccer refereeing is overwhelmingly a gray market economy. It is a legal enterprise where most low level games are paid in cash at the field. Minimal records are kept. Higher level games (college, professional, some high school, regional and national level youth tournaments) are paid by check where records are kept for 1099 purposes. Referees who only work low level games are left to their own conscience and risk tolerance in whether or not to report their incomes for taxation purposes. Referees who only work high level games have an extensive paper trail that mandates declaring their income.
For my regional USSF group of workhorse referees, I would guess that roughly half the income is declared. In that group, there are five referees who are trying to make a living as a referee. Two are doing so because they eventually want to make it to the MLS so they are paying their minor league poverty level dues. Another is in grad school, and refereeing supplments a very meager stipend, and the last two are twenty two year olds fresh out of college who have not figured out what they want to do but soccer pays the rent and buys them beer so it is a good stop-gap solution.
I’m known as the health insurance/Obamacare guy for the referee group (much like Chuck is the law guy, Nicole is the lower leg atheletic trainer girl, Pat is the life insurance guy etc), so at the last clinic, one of the guys who referees nearly full time pulled me aside and asked for some advice. We live in a non-expansion state, and he wanted health insurance but his declared 2013 income was $9,500 which is significantly below 100% of the federal poverty line and thus under the subsidy line. A catastrophic policy was available at $150/month but it covered almost nothing. Was there anything I could do to help him?
I asked what he was planning on declaring for 2014? He said his college schedule, his USSF pro and semi-pro schedules, one high school district, and a pair of large national tournaments where he made $700-$800 each week. That summed out to be about $10,000, which again is below 100% of FPL. I aked him if he worked any other games, knowing that he did as we did a half dozen men’s leagues games together over the summer as well as a great high school game in October. He accounted for another $4,500 worth of work from USSF and other high school games. That would place him well over 100% FPL if he declared all of the income, and declaring a little under half of that income would get him over the subsidy hurdle. I told him it was his choice, but declaring the income and bringing it into the white/overt market instead of the gray market would allow him to get a cost sharing Silver plan for $33 a month.
I think in states which have not expanded Medicaid, there will be an amazing number and proportion of people who will report between 100% and 102% of FPL from previously non-reported income and cash based jobs. I think in states with Medicaid expansion, the proportion of people who report between 100% and 102% of FPL will be dramatically lower and closer to the true population estimate of those income brackets. There is a strong incentive at the bottom end of the income scale to transform a bit of the gray market economy to the white market due to the subsidy cliff in non-expansion states. People will want to report just enough to qualify for Exchange subsidies so they will report just enough to do so.