The First Tier Tribunal has published its decision in The Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club Ltd at (www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/TC/2011/TC01214.html).The decision is well written, since the case was a lead case for numerous Golf Clubs. It also seems to be pre-empting an Appeal by HMRC, which does look likely. There is a detailed analysis of the European provisions, which is helpful.
The case deals with green fees charged to non-members by Members' Clubs. Membership Fees for such Clubs is already exempt from VAT. Membership Fees for privately-owned Clubs is taxable. Check out HMRC's own Internal Guidance at (http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.por...) although it may now be out of date! There is also some information at (www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/vsportmanual/Index.htm).
Clearly there is a lot of money at stake, which is why Customs may appeal the case. Bridport had around £140,000 to recover.
But, do note that, where claims are made, adjustments to Partial Exemption calculations will also be required.
On 27 July 2011, HMRC issued Brief 30/11 (www.hmrc.gov.uk/briefs/vat/brief3011.htm). They insist that the First Tier Tribunal has erred in applying European Law. They will not pay any claims, while the Appeal process continues.
New claims should be submitted, although HMRC will reject them. In the event that the issue is concluded in the taxpayers' favour, those claims will be paid.