Golf course plots do not qualify as building land subject to VAT, according to the Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal holds that a golf course – separately from the clubhouse – lends itself to independent use and that the golf course plots do not qualify as building land subject to VAT.
Point of law and interest
In this case of 30 March this year, the question put was whether the golf course plots, located alongside the plot on which the clubhouse was built at the moment of acquisition, could be regarded by the interested party as building land subject to VAT. The transfer of those plots would then be subject to VAT and the acquisition of those plots would be exempt from transfer tax.
Assessment by the Court of Appeal
First and foremost, it is important that the Court of Appeal held that the plot on which the golf course is located must be assessed independently in this respect (therefore separately from the plot on which the club house is found). The Court of Appeal then answers the question in this context whether the golf course can be qualified as building land. According to the Court of Appeal, this depends on the answer to the question whether and to what extent the work (before and after the transfer to the interested party) would result in buildings being erected on the golf course plots, possibly 'with accompanying grounds'. According to the Court of Appeal, the shelters did not meet this requirement because they were simple wooden structures that were easy to remove, and furthermore covered a very small area of the golf course plots. In addition, the Court of Appeal concluded that although various structures had been built on the golf course plots (such as pump houses, bridges, parking spaces, access roads, drainage conduits, pits, built-up tees, revetments, culverts, pumping stations, sprayers, fairways and irrigation pipes and systems), this still does not qualify as building land. Important in this respect is the fact that in the Court of Appeal's view, the structures present are subservient to the parts of the golf course plots that are not built up.
For real estate practice in general, it is not so important in itself whether golf course plots are or are not building land. It is important for the real estate practice however, (especially with the acquisition and sale of development sites) how the independence of one or more of the plots should be assessed, and what can and cannot be considered as buildings.
If you have any further questions on this issue or would like to receive more information, please contact Jérôme Germann, Luca van Silfhoutor or your trusted adviser at the Loyens & Loeff Real Estate Tax Team.