HMRC to appeal decision that green fees are exempt from VAT

HMRC has announced that it going to appeal against the decision of the First Tier Tribunal that green fees charged by members’ golf clubs to non-members are exempt from VAT.  This follows the First Tier Tribunal decision in The Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club case (TC/2009/122260).

The Tribunal determined that the UK was failing to correctly implement the exemption in the Principal VAT Directive.  Essentially, the exempt supplies by non-profit making organisations closely linked and essential to sport should apply to members and non-members.

HMRC is contending that the tribunal erred in interpreting EU law and warns:

  • that the decision is only binding on the persons party to the decision;
  • it will not pay out any other claims already submitted;
  • it will reject any new claims made on the basis of this decision; and
  • it will assess any underdeclared tax based on the decision and enforce the debt.

Gabelle can assist advisers to enable them to consider their clients’ VAT positions, taking into account any time limits which may apply to reclaims of VAT; making protective claims on behalf of their clients and deciding the best course of action for future non-member green fees.

Advisers that wish to understand more about the decision and its implications for their clients should contact Vaughn Chown on 020 7182 4748 or via email on