Football club scores legal win in £53k tax dispute
A thriving Carrickfergus football club have triumphed over the taxman in a £53,000 dispute.
Greenisland FC spent £265,000 building a new clubhouse after members and local people generously donated cash to the project. One donor shelled out £100,000 for the clubhouse.
However, the building's completion was followed by a full-scale HM Revenue and Customs inquiry.
Tax officials ruled that the club was wrong to tell its building contractors that no VAT was payable on the project. The club was then hit with a £53,101 penalty.
However, their development officer David Munn would not take this lying down.
Now, after fighting the case before a tax tribunal in Belfast, the club has scored an away victory and the fine has been cancelled.
Describing Mr Munn as a "totally credible witness", Judge Alastair Rankin said the club, and not HMRC, was right about the law.
The clubhouse was akin to a village hall and was open to the entire local community, he told the first-tier tribunal.
Club members had no priority over others when booking space for events and it was not operated as a business.
Any cash generated was ploughed back into maintenance and the clubhouse was, among other things, used for karate classes, a women and toddlers group, Irish dancing classes and church services on Sundays.
Overturning the penalty, the judge ruled construction of the clubhouse was zero-rated for VAT and the club had been right to tell the contractors that.