Global Edition


European Golf Unites to Resolve Thorny VAT Issues

7.47am 14th January 2011 - Management Topics - This story was updated on Friday, January 14th, 2011

Representatives from over nine national golf course owners associations and the English Golf Union met recently in London for in-depth discussions on European VAT regulations and their implications for the golf industry.

Lodewijk Klootwijk, Director of the European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA said: “The goal of this working group is to exchange information, and where possible to take action to achieve an improved VAT regime for golf in Europe.”

During the meeting Alexander Hagen of tax advisory company, Leisure & Tax – – presented a dossier on VAT issues encountered in various countries across Europe. Representatives from each country also gave a summary of their situation, and any legal action planned or already in progress.

“According to the general consensus amongst the group, we find ourselves in a situation where the commercial golfing sector in most countries feels that the administration of VAT is carried out in an unfair way,” says Klootwijk. “This is substantiated by the argument that golfing facilities (both commercial and non-commercial) operate in a similar way and, in essence provide the same services to the general public.

“In Denmark, for example, member-owned courses are VAT exempt, but commercial courses are required to pay 25% on their memberships and green fees. The working group has set in place an action plan to challenge the current situation on both a national and EU level.

“As I have said in the past, legislation from the European Union forbids governments to give parts of an industry an advantage over others in the same industry, but from our perspective, this appears not to apply in the golf business.”

During the meeting, it was agreed that group members would be provided with a letter outlining details of the case of distortion of competition, which they would then forward to their national tax authorities. Other joint actions agreed, included the benchmarking of property tax in various countries, and investigations into tax deductibility on golf courses.

European Golf Course Owners Association


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  • In the UK member owned golf clubs are at a clear advantage as their sport related supplies ( membership fees, joining fees , green fees for members etc ) are exempt for VAT under the Sporting exemption, while commercially owned clubs have to charge VAT at the standard rate. This is clearly unfair competition and the EGU or other industry bodies should take the lead in lobying the EU and the UK government to change the regulations on this issue which has has been known about for many years . If the government and the EU continue to refuse to take action then legal action should be considered.

  • Adrian Stiff

    The EGU have been helping over the last year and are working with a company called Vatability on achieving the same playing field as member owned golf clubs, many private clubs have put £2000 in to help the funding. No one seems to think this is fair except the UK Government. Possibly with the VAT rise to 20% it might speed up the case.

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