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Clarity for Private Shooting Clubs


Julie Butler - Expert Author

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Published on 6th August 2010

There have been two recent developments which impact on the VAT treatment on private shooting clubs and help give clarity around a subject that has involved a lot of controversy. 

Changes to the VAT exemption for sports-related services are being introduced from 1 September 2010, as explained in Revenue & Customs Brief 15/10.  These will in the main affect affiliation fees charged by sports governing bodies to member clubs, but other sports-related supplies may also be affected.

With regard to such affiliation fees charged by sports governing bodies to their member sports clubs, HMRC have previously restricted the exemption to fees calculated on a per person basis (provided the services were closely linked to sport).  Affiliation fees calculated by other methods were standard rated for VAT.

The European Court of Justice in Canterbury Hockey Club and Canterbury Ladies’ Hockey Club (C-253/07) found that the exemption applies more widely.  It has ruled that, in the context of persons taking part in sport, the exemption includes services supplied to corporate persons and to unincorporated associations, provided that the supplies are essential to sport, are supplied by non-profit making organisations, and the true beneficiaries are those taking part in the sport.  This means that some supplies which were standard rated may now be exempt from VAT.  The key issues were essential to sport and participation.

From 1 September 2010, eligible bodies meeting the conditions for exemption outlined in VAT Notice 701/45 Sport must exempt supplies where the true beneficiaries are persons taking part in sport, even if the supply is not made direct to an individual and irrespective of how the fee is calculated.  Supplies made to commercial profit-making organisations do not meet the true beneficiary test and will not fall within the exemption for supplies of services closely linked and essential to sport.

This will be of particular interest to shooting clubs.  The supply of shooting rights is standard rated, although it is often just the supply of woodland and other land which can seem to many a contradiction.  This cost can be a large element of the infrastructure of a shoot.  Where the supplier and customer are in agreement there will be an opportunity to review the previous periods in order to obtain a refund.  In the case of shooting rights supplied by a farmer they will have to consider partial exemption issues.

All genuine non-profit making sporting clubs and their suppliers should be urgently reviewing their VAT position and that review should NOT include a scheme.

About the Author

Article supplied by Julie Butler F.C.A. Butler & Co, Bennett House, The Dean, Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 9BH.  Tel: 01962 735544.  Email;, Website;

Julie Butler F.C.A. is the author of Tax Planning for Farm and Land Diversification ISBN: 0754517691 (1st edition) and ISBN: 0754522180 (2nd edition) and Equine Tax Planning ISBN: 0406966540.  The third edition of Tax Planning For Farm and Land Diversification will be published shortly.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-10-22 12:54:56 in Tax Articles

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