Here is news from the European Court on claiming VAT on members’ golf club fees.
Green fees charged by members’ golf clubs
Any business person who belongs to a members’ golf club and who likes to entertain clients by taking them to a round of golf, may find they have less VAT to pay following the decision of the European Court in Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Ltd (“Bridport”).
Bridport is a members’ golf club and charged VAT on green fees paid by non-members for the use of the club’s courses. Under UK law, where a non-profit-distributing sports club has a membership scheme, charges to non-members are generally taxable (membership for these purposes must be for at least 3 months). Bridport had followed UK law until the decision of the European Court in Canterbury Hockey led them to make a VAT repayment claim. This was made on the basis that UK law was wrong to exclude green fees from exemption.
The UK relied on exclusions from the exemption which the Court has decided cannot apply. This means clubs can now press any claims already made in relation to VAT on green fees. If none has been made to date, then a claim may be made for the last 4 years. Partial exemption claims would need to be revised and some clubs may find that only their bar and restaurant will keep them from almost total exemption. Even those clubs that do not make a claim will need to change their VAT accounting going forward and consider the possible impact of the capital goods scheme, if they have assets covered by that scheme.
In short, all members’ sports clubs (and not just golf clubs) should seek advice on the impact for them of the decision in Bridport.
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About Terry Dockley
Terry Dockley is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and has been advising on VAT for over 25 years. He joined the Inland Revenue in 1977 as a direct entrant inspector, leaving in 1985 to join Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, which later became part of PwC. He has run his own VAT advisory practice since January 2011.
Terry advises businesses and charities on VAT when it gets more complex, often working closely with other professionals, such as lawyers and accountants.
Terry keeps bees and has four children and four Burmese cats.