European Court considers VAT exemption for bridge

On 2nd March, at the European Courts of Justice in Luxembourg, judges considered the EU Directive under which sporting activities are exempt from VAT.

At present the majority of the governments of member nations of the EU exempt bridge activities from VAT under this directive. The UK government does not implement the directive in this way, and the EBU, with the co-operation of HMRC, brought the matter before the British Court. The British Courts referred the case to the EU Courts to seek clarification regarding the intention of their directive. Prominent MPs have given their support to the removal of VAT from entry fees to Mind Sport competitions - Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron calling it "a common sense approach".

The Court looked at the intention of the directive in broad terms, and once it has been established then this can be applied to the case of bridge specifically. A preliminary judgement will be made on 15th June.

Despite 'Brexit' the ruling is still significant: a 'positive' result would enable a refund to the EBU of VAT paid in recent years; it would establish the basis for the implementation of the directive in all EU member states, not just the UK.