A small Scottish golf club has won an appeal for a refund of VAT that was erroneously charged on an annual fee to an adjoining golf club.
Earlsferry Thistle Golf Club in Ellie, Fife, which has 60 members, paid £41,000 in VAT on fees to Elie Golf House Club so its members could play on the golf course.
In 2011, Earlsferry made a VAT reclaim for £20,000 - citing a 2008 ruling by the European Court of Justice that affiliation fees paid by Canterbury Hockey Club and Canterbury Ladies Hockey Club to England Hockey were exempt from VAT.
HMRC rejected the claim, saying that under section 80 of the VAT Act any re-payments for erroneously charged VAT should only be made to the person who "accounted for the wrongly charged output".
HMRC said the golf club should claim the VAT back from the golf club because it is a VAT-registered business that incorrectly charged and accounted for the VAT.
Earlsferry appealed to the first-tier tribunal, which refused HMRC’s application for strike-out and directed that the appeal be stood over until 60 days after resolution of the Bridport case.
In December last year the European Court of Justice ruled that Bridport & West Dorset golf club did not have to pay VAT on green fees collected from non-members.
Earlsferry appealed to the upper-tier tribunal which ruled in favour of the golf club.
Other sporting clubs that have re-claimed VAT will have to wait until at least July until the legal issue is sorted, however.
HMRC has applied to the upper tribunal to put an appeal for golf club VAT rebates on hold until 18 July.
About Nick Huber
I’m a specialist business journalist and have a particular interest in tax and technology.