Golf clubs could get £500m in VAT rebate
The UK government could pay British private members’ golf clubs half a billion pounds in a VAT rebate.
The figure, made in the Belfast Telegraph, comes a month after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that green fees paid by visitors at British private members’ golf clubs must, like membership subscriptions, be exempt from VAT.
It means that all private members’ golf clubs in the UK, in which there are more than a thousand, can claim the VAT paid on green fees from the Treasury, backdated by four years, and in some circumstances, back to 1990.
“The total amount the Treasury may have to hand back could be as much as half a billion pounds,” states the newspaper.
Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club alone, which won the CJEU case, is reportedly seeking £140,000 in a rebate.
Gemma Gower, VAT manager at accountant Mitchell Charlesworth, said other clubs should claim now. “This could see golf clubs claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds back from HMRC,” she said.
“Golf clubs should not delay starting the process of claiming back what is rightfully theirs, as the longer they delay, the more VAT they stand to lose. Getting a claim moving now could bring real financial benefits, particularly to small clubs and those which are struggling with a downturn in usage or membership.”
More proprietary golf clubs are complaining of distortion in the wake of the ruling.
Kenneth Logan, head of proprietary Edenmore Golf Club in Northern Ireland, said that even before the ruling someone using his club could pay £118.33 in VAT on their membership, while their neighbour at a members’ golf club pays none. He has called on the government to take action.
“This ruling will mean an even bigger differential between members’ and proprietor-owned golf clubs,” he said.
“I have nothing against member-owned clubs, we work with and play alongside them all year round and they have not done anything wrong.
“We are all having to abide by the rules – all I would like to see is a fairer system across the board. It’s very difficult in these economic times to make a business attractive to customers and this difference in tax rates does not help.
“The government needs to take action to narrow this gap.”