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‘Green fees’ and the VAT sporting exemption

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HMRC argues that ‘green fees’ charged by members’ golf clubs cannot fall within the VAT exemption in article 132(m) of EC Directive 2006/112/EC because these transactions are additional income which is obtained in direct competition with commercial enterprises liable for VAT (HMRC Brief 25/12 and 30/11). The matter has been the subject of several recent cases, and has recently been referred to the CJEU (which is not expected to hear the case until summer 2013). The authors contend that there can be no legitimate basis for a Member State to permit distortions of competition caused by members’ subscriptions whilst forbidding those caused by fees charged to non-members. In circumstances where each of the supplies in question is made by a non-profit making body the same VAT treatment must apply.

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