Global Edition

The VAT Distortion: UK Golf Team in talks with HM Treasury

12.32pm 31st July 2015 - Management Topics

Following a meeting on 29th July, HM Treasury has agreed to continue a dialogue with a UKGCOA/England Golf/KPMG project team to consider agreeing a resolution to the VAT distortion in golf.

Logo-UKGCOA UJackOn 29th July a project team representing UK Golf was granted a meeting with members of the Treasury’s VAT policy team, including the Deputy Director, VAT Business and International Tax Group, HM Treasury.

Among the team representing the golf business were David Joy, Chief Executive England Golf; Craig Wagstaff, Finance Director England Golf; Andrew Sutcliffe, UKGCOA Board member and owner of Tickenham GC; Michael Ramsey, UKGCOA member and owner of Stockwood Vale GC

The 22 slide presentation was written by the UKGCOA (UK Golf Course Owners Association) with legal technical assistance and advice from KPMG, and was presented to HM Treasury officials by Andrew Lloyd-Skinner, Chief Executive, UKGCOA; Paul Stewart, Indirect Tax Director, KPMG; Karen Killington, Senior manager, KPMG (specialist on taxation technical/legal issues); and Simon Trussler, Director and Senior Economist, KPMG

The full presentation will be available for UKGCOA members to download from the new website, due for launch during early August. UKGCOA members will be asked to confirm confidentiality terms before downloading the presentation.

Andrew Lloyd-Skinner told “While I don’t intend to provide detailed minutes of the meeting, there were some key points that readers of this report should be made aware of, namely:

  • David Joy made it clear at the outset to the Treasury officials that the current VAT distortion was of great concern and had recently become more accentuated. He spoke about the difference of golf to most large participation sports in so much as others had facilities often funded through the public purse. He spoke about the size of the proprietary sector and the important role proprietary clubs continue to play in making the game more accessible and increasing participation. He felt that the current distortion around VAT was making it difficult for proprietary clubs to continue to invest in their facilities and this was damaging not only to golf facilities, but the economic and health impact of the game.
  • Two solutions for consideration were tabled, either a reduced rate of VAT (5%) for participation at a proprietary golf facility or a revision of the 1999 Sports Order to permit proprietary golf facility owners to establish acceptable “non-profit making” organisational structures so that golf participants will not be charged VAT. In doing so, the point was made that expert legal advice suggests some of the terms within the UK’s 1999 Sports Order go further than they should and are liable to legal challenge.
  • HM Treasury’s Deputy Director had a list of questions as a result, the answers to which will assist him to prepare in advance of any submission to Treasury Ministers. These questions were sent in an email to KPMG immediately following the meeting and the project team from UKGCOA, England Golf and KPMG are reviewing them currently.”

Andrew Lloyd-Skinner continued: “The next actions are as follows:

  • Send an electronic version of the presentation to HM Treasury’s representatives for them to digest the contents further and circulate internally;
  • Respond to the list of questions due to be sent by the Deputy Director, HM Treasury;
  • Agree a date to meet again with the HM Treasury officials to discuss the reduced VAT rate and an amendment to the 1999 Sports order. At this meeting, it will be appropriate to agree time scales for a final decision on implementation of a solution, assuming the Treasury agree to offer a solution.

“In summary, as you are aware we are keen to formulate a resolution to the VAT distortion in golf and have commenced a dialogue with HM Treasury/HMRC. Our proposed solutions will, of course, need to be acceptable politically, legally and financially. The UKGCOA will work as quickly as possible in collaboration with England Golf, KPMG and HM Treasury.

“It is clear that demonstrating unity within golf by both the Chief Executives of England Golf and the UKGCOA giving the same messages to HM Treasury in the same room, helped to produce this encouraging step forward.

“The ongoing work to neutralise the VAT distortion in golf will require the support of all clubs. So, if your golf club is not already a UKGCOA member, join now to support their activities, VAT distortion is just one of a number…….although the current top priority, so to find out more or to join the UKGCOA visit or email


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