Golf clubs urged to 'act now' over green fee VAT rebate

Mitchell Charlesworth is urging not-for-profit members’ golf clubs to act now following a landmark EU ruling about VAT on green fees.

Golf Course

The ruling, delivered following a case brought forward by Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club, means that non-profit clubs can claim back four years worth, and more in some cases, of VAT paid by non-members on green fees.

More than 1,500 golf courses across the UK could be in line for this major tax rebate after paying VAT ‘unlawfully’, which could result in six- or seven-figure windfalls for the clubs.

There are approximately 260 clubs in the North West with around half expected to qualify for the VAT rebate.

Gemma Gower, VAT manager at Mitchell Charlesworth, called the decision a "landmark ruling" which could have a major benefit for private golf clubs.

"This is an industry changing decision which 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.

"Mitchell Charlesworth has an extensive and highly regarded tax department with experts who are well placed to help non-profit golf clubs which are facing the technical process of claiming back years of VAT. We would urge any clubs which are unsure of the implications of the decision to get in touch immediately and put a claim in place."

There are around 3,000 golf clubs across the UK with just over half classed as non-profit clubs. These not-for-profit clubs are also exempt from VAT on membership fees, unlike proprietary or for-profit clubs. Around 5pc of golf clubs across the UK are run by local authorities.

A total of 500 clubs have already lodged claims with HMRC and these could be backdated as far as 1990, following EU Legislation.

Claims brought forward now can be backdated by four years, and in some circumstances, back to 1990. The claim lodged by Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club is one such claim, and is expected to be worth in the region of £140,000.

Ms Gower added: "The impact of the EU ruling is two-fold on not-for-profit members’ golf clubs. Firstly, they may be able to recover overpaid VAT and secondly, they should also review their pricing structure going forward. Receiving expert advice is the vital first step in this process."

For more details contact Gemma Gower at Mitchell Charlesworth on 0151 255 2300 or email:

Image courtesy of  Sura Nualpradid /

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