The European Court of Justice (ECJ) verdicts on taxation of green fees could lead to refund as the decision tees up VAT windfall for golf clubs. This judgment can also make it much affordable for non-members to play at member-owned clubs.
A spokesman for the Revenue Commissioners confirmed that the tax authority is reviewing ECJ’s judgment in a case involving Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club in England, in which it was decided that levying VAT when non-members pay green fees to play at member-owned clubs was not as per the EU law.
UK and the Republic are both governed by the same EU VAT Directive. There the VAT is levied on green fees which are paid by non-members in clubs owned by members, while membership fees are VAT-exempt. This judgment marks the final stage in the Bridport case. Now, theoretically, around 300 member-owned Irish golf clubs can apply to the Revenue for a VAT refund on green fees paid by non-members for the past four years.
Green fees vary significantly from course to course, keeping an average of €40, including VAT. The rate of VAT paid would have been either 9% or 13.5%, depending on the year.
The Revenue Commissioners have received some enquiries on the issue and are developing a guideline for the clubs. The claims made must be specific in calculating the amount to be repaid and the claims must take into consideration VAT in other areas of the club’s activities offset against the VAT paid on green fees.