Several years ago the Court of Justice for the European Union ruled in favour of the taxpayer in the case of Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club. In its judgement green fees paid by non-members to a non-profit making members' golf club should properly be treated as exempt from VAT. Although it has taken some time for HMRC to acknowledge the full extent of this decision, claims for overpaid VAT are now being processed. As a result, any non-profit making sports club (not just golf clubs) that have not already submitted a claim for overpaid VAT should now consider making such a claim for VAT charged on fees paid by visitors or non-members to participate in sport. Furthermore, existing claimants should review their claim based on recent guidance published by HMRC regarding this matter. Eligible bodies for the purposes of the sporting exemption must submit their claims within the time limits set out within the relevant legislation, that is within 4 years of the end of the earliest period covered by the claim. Only income received in relation to allowing individuals participate in a sporting activity is valid for such a claim and so special considerations must be given to supplies made by sports clubs to tour operators and corporate hospitality. A further consideration is the activities that, in accordance with HMRC's guidance, qualify as a sport for exemption purposes. Any non-profit making members clubs facilitating individuals participation in these activities may be able to submit a claim under this new legislation, including; yoga, shooting, karate and ice skating amongst many others. Due to supplies made to non-members being treated as exempt from VAT, each body making a claim will have to consider their input VAT recovery position as input VAT relating to these exempt supplies will no longer be recoverable, and thus must be reflected in the claim. To discuss any existing or future claims of this nature, call our free VAT helpline for guidance on the scope of such claims, how overpaid VAT should be calculated and other effects on the club or business as a result of treating these supplies as exempt from VAT.
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