VAT Advice

This section of the Club Services website provides regular updates on VAT issues affecting golf clubs.

Private Member Clubs (PMCs) in Scotland are encouraged to read the latest VAT updates provided by VAT Services (Scotland) Ltd on behalf of Scottish Golf outlining the changes to VAT legislation for golf clubs who receive visitor fee income, including member guest income including VAT and Golf Passes which may affect clubs operating a visitor pass scheme with Visit Scotland.

February 2018 Update

HMRC has released Revenue and Customs Brief (01/2018) confirming changes to the VAT treatment of affiliation fees for golf clubs from 1 April 2018.

> Update: Changes to the VAT Treatment of Affiliation Fees for Golf Clubs from 1 April 2018

> HMRC: Revenue and Customs Brief 1 (2018): VAT – treatment of affiliation fees for sports clubs


May 2016 Update

> Update regarding VAT on Visitor Green Fees – Latest HMRC guidance – May 2016


February 2016 Update

We have been advised (by KPMG, who are acting for The Berkshire Golf Club) HMRC have now formally confirmed that they will not be appealing the decision of The Berkshire Golf Club and Others.  This case was in connection with unjust enrichment and was a follow up to the Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club case on visitor fee income. A summary is provided below (11 February 2016 update). Scottish Golf will issue a fuller update, prepared by its VAT advisors, VAT Services (Scotland) Ltd, once HMRC has issued its update, probably via a Revenue & Customs Brief or Information Sheet.

> Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club – 11 February 2016 – Update

> Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club – Summary of Judgment of First-tier Tribunal on Unjust Enrichment 

> Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update (18 November 2015)

> VAT Services Scotland – VAT Seminar, Autumn 2015 – Helping Golf Clubs better understand VAT

> VAT and Golf Passes sold via VisitScotland to golfers at Private Member Clubs

> Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update (03 February 2015)

> Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update (19 December 2014)

> Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update (7 October 2014)

> Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update (5 August 2014)

> Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update (1 July 2014)

Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club Appeal. VAT Liability of Green Fees – Update – May 2014

Progress in the claims process has slowed as HMRC has now asked the Tax Tribunal to put all claims on hold until 18 July 2014 so that they can decide whether to argue unjust enrichment. KPMG (who advised Bridport at Tribunal in this case) is discussing this with HMRC and voicing their concern at the length of delay.

Those clubs that have submitted claims will require to bring their claim up to date i.e. submit an additional claim from the date of their most recent claim to the date of their most recently submitted VAT return. If a club’s most recently submitted claim was to 31 March 2012 and they submit VAT returns corresponding to the calendar quarters, they should submit an additional claim for the period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2014.

> View more information

19 December 2013 – HMRC v Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club – VAT Judgement

The European Court of Justice released its judgement today in the Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club case in which the taxpayer challenged the UK’s treatment of green fees charged by not-for-profit members’ clubs.

The judgement went in Bridport’s favour and this is the final decision in the Bridport case.

The issue in dispute was whether or not green fees charged to visitors should be treated as exempt from VAT. HMRC argued that green fees should be taxed, whereas on behalf of the golf club KPMG argued that they should be treated in the same way as annual subscriptions.

The ECJ found that all supplies of the facility to play golf provided by non-profit making clubs must be exempt. There can be no exclusion from exemption by reference to green fees being income not arising directly from memberships. It was also held it is not possible to apply a general exclusion which narrows the scope of the exemption as provided on the face of the legislation.

KPMG, who have taken the case, are looking to a central resolution on the processing of the claims. It is expected that HMRC will in due course issue a press release in connection with the case and we recommend that you await further guidance before contacting HMRC. Our VAT advisers will consider this judgement in more detail and an update will be issued as and when required. This judgement does not alter the current VAT position of green fees charged by proprietary clubs.

July 2012 The test case regarding Visitor Fee Income was heard at the First Tier Tax Tribunal on 21 and 22 February 2011. The decision of the Tribunal was released to HMRC and Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club on Wednesday 1 June. The Tribunal found in favour of Bridport (and therefore against HMRC) confirming that green fees paid by visiting non-members are exempt from VAT. HMRC had 56 days to appeal this decision and they did so 27 July 2011. The Upper Tier Tribunal heard the appeal by HMRC on 9 and 10 July 2012. However, the Tribunal has sought assistance from the European Court of Justice on two parts that will assist the Tribunal in coming to a decision. It is not expected that the decision will be released until the late summer of 2013.

> Latest summary and FAQ – March 2013

12 August 2011 – VAT Update on Visitor Income Tribunal Case – HMRC lodged appeal HMRC has lodged an appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal – see Document Library for further information

13 June 2011 – VAT Update on Visitor Income Tribunal Case – Official Decision released The First-Tier Tribunal has released its decision on the Bridport & West Dorset case.  HMRC has 56 days in which to lodge an appeal.  As such, clubs should continue to account for VAT on visitor green fee income until it has been confirmed whether HMRC is going to appeal the decision or not.  See Document Library for more information on how this may affect your club, how to access the full decision and contact details for our recommended VAT advisors, Vat Services.

6 June 2011 – VAT Update on Visitor Fee Income Tribunal Case We are advised that Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club has won its case at the First-Tier Tribunal, successfully arguing that Visitor Fee Income received by Members’ Clubs is exempt from VAT and not standard rated (as viewed by HMRC). The full details of the decision have not yet been published and HMRC has 56 days in which to lodge an appeal.  As such, clubs should continue to account for VAT on visitor green fee income until it has been confirmed whether HMRC is going to appeal the decision or not.  See Document Library for more information on how this may affect your club and contact details for our recommended VAT advisors, VAT Services.

Important Implications of VAT Rate Increase on De Minimis Many sports clubs are subject to the VAT partial exemption rules whereby if exempt input tax in any year is less than £7,500 it can all be reclaimed but if it exceeds this limit then it is all lost.  With the increase in the VAT rate to 20% in January 2011, many small clubs will find it difficult to keep below the limit and will have to find additional funds for VAT. We have written to The Treasury and to selected MSP’s and MP’s to request a review of the threshold.  See Document Library for a summary outlining this issue and letters sent to The Treasury and MP’s/MSP’s.

2010 – Changes in Rules Governing submission of VAT Returns Golf Clubs with a turnover greater than £100,000 must begin to submit VAT returns and payments online for any accounting period commencing on or after 1 April 2010.  View “VAT returns – online submission” in Document Library for further details.

VAT can be an awkward and complex area for Golf Clubs.  Many Clubs report they have difficulty in ensuring the VAT Returns (including the Partial Exemption Annual Adjustment) are accurate.

In addition, there have been a number of occasions recently where clubs may have had cause to investigate potential claims on overpaid VAT.

We have met with Gary Moore of VAT Services and although Scottish Golf do not endorse the services of VAT Services, clubs may find Gary’s expertise of value, both in terms of ongoing VAT advice and also on any potential claims.

See Document Library for

  • letter issued in connection with possible claims for further repayment of VAT from members subscriptions and for an update.
  • letter issued in connection with possible claims for repayment of VAT from Visitor Green Fees and for an update.

Gary can be contacted on 0141 636 9353 or alternatively his email address is gmoore@vat-services.co.uk