Marlborough Golf Club receives £200,000 VAT windfall

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 15, 2017 13:01

Marlborough Golf Club in Wiltshire has received £200,000 from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HRMC) as recovery of VAT paid on visitors’ green fees.

The club is one of hundreds of UK private members’ clubs to have received six figure payments in the last five months.

“It was way back in 2009 that we registered our intention to seek recovery of VAT paid on visitors’ green fees,” said a spokesman for the club.

“We engaged the services of KPMG to pursue the claim, along with many, but by no means all, members-owned golf clubs. The wisdom of that decision is now bearing fruit. We have received a cheque for £200,000 from HMRC.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it all seems quite obvious now, but at the time many clubs did not register their claim. The deadline date of March 31, 2009 came and went and for whatever reason, the chance was lost. Some of the clubs who did register did not claim for the earliest period, 1990 to 1998, which in our case proved to be about half of the money.

“The test case – Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club – went through the English courts, the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Justice.”

He added, in a statement to the club’s members, that the money will be spent on improving the golf club.

“A shopping list is being drawn up by the committee based very much on the feedback you gave us in the survey. We can’t do everything at once but we are looking at drawing up a programme of work which will move us steadily forward in the direction members have indicated whilst keeping us on a sound financial footing,” he said.

“It’s great news for members-owned clubs and for many, a lifeline that will stave off bankruptcy. We were in the fortunate position of being debt-free after many years living on an overdraft even before the Vatman paid up! Now we can invest for the future.”

The spokesman added that the green fee payment does not signal the end of his club’s legal battles with the government.

“Some clubs, us included, are continuing the legal fight to recover compound interest, HMRC having paid only simple interest. The difference is substantial and is likely to be strongly resisted. Resolution of the appeal is probably going to take a long time – at least a year and it may be much longer,” he said.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 15, 2017 13:01
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  1. Paul February 18, 11:52

    This money should be really going back to the green fee & society golfers that paid the fees to play the course in the first place all those years ago. Convenient that most private clubs have no or little way of tracking the contact details of their users.

    Reply to this comment
    • TaxMan February 23, 17:42

      The issue is more complex than this suggests, as the courts accepted that member clubs set green fees more in accordance with the local market and then accounted for VAT, rather than adding VAT to the fee – also, there was a ‘knocking-down’ of claims for unjust enrichment in this respect.

      Reply to this comment
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