Resolving VAT distortion for golf’s proprietary sector is our main short term priority, and we are making positive progress towards retaining over £60m of golf participation revenues (normally given to HMRC as VAT receipts) for commercial golf facilities every year. As there are an estimated 1,100 commercial golf facilities in the UK, the average annual revenue benefit for each golf facility if we are successful in the work currently being undertaken with HM Treasury by the collaboration between the UKGCOA, England Golf and KPMG will be over £54,000. 

The VAT exemption for participants at non-profit making sports clubs (which includes private members golf clubs) is required under EU VAT law and cannot be removed unless the EU VAT laws change, or the UK decides to go its own way! However, anyone should really welcome tax concessions for sports participation. The real issue is the distribution of the tax concessions to golfing participants and how this unfairly impacts almost 50% of the UK’s golfing businesses (the UK Government has, so far, failed to accept that non-profit making golf clubs are businesses and not small voluntarily-run sports operations).

The UKGCOA is working in partnership with the Home Country Unions and KPMG to persuade the HMRC and The Treasury that applying a reduced rate of VAT, currently 5%, to golf’s proprietary sector will resolve the legal disputes, save a number of struggling small golf businesses, enhance and unify the golf industry, increase employment and investment, and cost little after factoring in the increased tax yields from Income and Corporation tax. We have completed the presentation and have acquired Ministerial support for a meeting with appropriate officials.

The Tax Equality Fighting Fund

To ensure we have the funds in place to seek appropriate professional advice, plus provide funds for actions that will benefit the tax equality fight for the proprietary sector, we have decided to ask our partners, sponsors and members to contribute whatever they can to the UKGCOA tax equality fund. The UKGCOA will manage the fund with full accountability, i.e. we will maintain records of each contributor, issue monthly statements to contributors of income and expenditure, etc.

There is little doubt that tax distortion in golf is a major barrier to the growth of the game of golf in the UK as a majority of proprietary golf clubs (the primary gateways to new golfers) are unable to invest in their facilities and are struggling to survive against nearby VAT exempt private members golf clubs competing for members and, now, green fees and company golf days. Having said this, the UKGCOA is clear on who the fight is with, i.e. HMRC and The Treasury and not our private member golf club colleagues.

If you would like to make a donation to the Tax Equality Fighting Fund please email accounts@sportsandplay.com for details. For more information on the fund or the taxation situation in general please get in touch with Andy Lloyd-Skinner on andy@ukgcoa.com