Course owners fight VAT bias


Sean Dudley

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

The meeting was hosted by the European Golf Course Owners Association. EGCOA director Lodewijk Klootwijk said: “The goal of this 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,” said 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 per cent 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. 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."