VAT Tribunal

You may be aware that the EBU had appealed against a decision of HMRC not to grant us relief from VAT on competition entry fees. We were represented by our Honorary Counsel David Ewart, to whom we owe many thanks for his efforts. We learnt recently that our efforts had been unsuccessful.

The tribunal report can be read here

This outcome generated significant interest in the media, with many newspaper articles, and a few TV and radio features, on the subject. You can hear, read or watch a selection of these here.

Whilst there were occasional factual inaccuracies or misrepresentations, and a few comments from members of the general public which were, to be polite, misinformed or ‘unhelpful’, the coverage was almost always fair, positive and beneficial to the standing of bridge in this country. If there was any coverage in your local area – and we know over one hundred local and regional newspaper ran stories in light of the news – we hope it is beneficial to your club and to the game in your area. If you have a link to an online article, or have a press clipping you can scan and send to us, then we would be very pleased to receive it. Please send them to Communications Officer, Peter Stockdale.

This tribunal represented only the first stage of the appeal process, and we are currently considering whether to go to the next stage with our efforts and are taking legal advice. We are aware that in some other EU countries there is VAT relief on bridge, and also some countries and worldwide governing bodies, for example the International Olympic Committee, regard Bridge as a sport. We feel our case for fair and equal treatment alongside other activities deemed to be ‘sports’ is strong.

If bridge were to be recognised as a sport this would result in VAT relief. This would mean any VAT which the EBU had paid in the last five years would be refunded, and in future no VAT would need to be paid on competition entries. This would obviously mean a significant boost to the funds of the Union and a reduction in future entry fees, which would make bridge a cheaper activity to play. In addition there are some funding bodies which support sports, and being recognised as such would open up opportunities for recognition by these bodies, and thus additional funding opportunities.

Moving forward, nothing will change – we will continue to charge, and to pay, VAT as before, so the cost of bridge, and the finances of the EBU, will be unaltered. Whilst the outcome is disappointing it represents only the denial of an opportunity to make things better, rather than a ruling which will make things worse.

If you have any questions on the matter please don’t hesitate to contact us.