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Golf clubs hit hole in one against the tax man
June 22, 2011

A recent VAT tribunal has determined that green fees charged to visitors at non-profit making clubs should be VAT free. This gives a potential opportunity for clubs affected to gain a windfall in respect of overpaid VAT. Supplies to members of a golf club have been exempt from VAT since 1990, but HMRC has always taken the view that green fees payable by non-members should be subject to VAT at the standard rate.

However, a decision in favour of Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club has gone against HMRC. The tribunal took the view that the provision of facilities to play should have the same VAT treatment regardless of whether the person playing paid an annual membership subscription or was paying a 'one off' green fee as a visitor to the club.

As a result, the charges made to both full and temporary members are exempt from VAT. It is important to point out that HMRC may well appeal against this decision, however golf clubs should consider making an immediate claim in order to maximise the opportunity available.

Gill Yates, Head of VAT services at Burgis & Bullock said: "This is an important decision. All members' golf clubs should be reviewing their last 4 years accounts now in order to avoid missing out on potentially significant refunds of VAT. S ome golf clubs will be in a worse position if visitors green fees are treated as exempt from VAT."

For further information, please contact Gill Yates on 01926 451000 or email her at

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