HMRC paves the way for golf clubs to claim millions back in green fee VAT

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim May 6, 2016 11:35

HMRC has said it ‘accepts that supplies of sporting services made to both members and non-members by non-profit making members’ sports clubs can be treated as exempt from VAT’ and is offering guidance on how money can be claimed back.

The announcement follows a landmark legal decision concerning the repayment of VAT on green fees at private members’ golf clubs. The First Tier Tribunal ruling last December will result in hundreds of private members’ golf clubs being repaid significant amounts of VAT and interest on green fees.


“Existing claimants and new claimants may both find they need to take action,” states HMRC.

“Where your existing claim is still open, or it has not yet been considered by HMRC, you should now review your claim.

“If a claimant wishes to claim any additional amounts in respect of non members that were either overlooked or the result of calculation errors for accounting periods in the original claim, that claim can be amended.

“You should then make any necessary adjustments before deciding how and whether to proceed with the claim.

“To ensure that all claims are dealt with correctly and appropriately, claimants who wish to proceed with their current claims are asked to provide a timeline of their claims and subsequent appeals so that HMRC can cross-check these to the details they already hold.

“Any claims submitted now will be a new claim subject to the four year time limit. Rejected claims that were appealed to the First Tier Tribunal are still open.”

HMRC states that for claims made before April 1, 2009, the earliest period a golf club could have claimed for must have ended no earlier than three years before the date of the claim.

“For example, if your claim was submitted on 31 March 2009, the earliest period you could have claimed for must have ended on or after 31 March 2006,” it explains.

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“Claims made between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010 inclusive were subject to transitional arrangements which increased the time limit from three to four years. In such cases, you could therefore have claimed for more than three years, provided that the earliest claim period ended on or after 1 April 2006. For claims made on or after 1 April 2010, a maximum of four years can be claimed. The earliest period you can claim for must have ended no earlier than four years before the date of your claim. For example, if you submit a claim on 31 March 2015, the earliest period you can claim for must have ended on or after 31 March 2011.

“The one exception for claims made before 1 April 2009 is ‘Fleming’ claims for underclaimed or overpaid VAT potentially going back as far as the inception of VAT in 1973. This exception resulted from the House of Lords judgements in the linked cases of Fleming and Conde Nast which concerned the way the three year time limit on making claims had been introduced.

“As the deadline for submitting Fleming claims was 31 March 2009, any claim made after this date cannot be a Fleming claim.

“In the case of Fleming claims, HMRC maintains that overpaid VAT (output tax) was capped at periods ending on or before 4 December 1996. Therefore, any claims for periods which ended after 4 December 1996 will only be considered if the claim for those periods was made within the three or four year time limit.

“HMRC also maintains that, when the exemption for sporting activities was first implemented in 1993, this only allowed the exemption to be backdated to 1 January 1990. Therefore, HMRC will not accept any claims for amounts of overpaid VAT prior to 1 January 1990.”

The full guidance can be found here.


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim May 6, 2016 11:35
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