Private gyms have to charge VAT on membership, whilst public gyms (for example, not-for-profit trusts which run leisure centre gyms on behalf of local authorities) either get concessions or do not pay any. Until now.
After a recent court case* in Scotland won by Customs & Revenue, tax officials have warned all 2 597 public gyms saying that they must levy VAT on their full membership fees.
Entirely acceptable with Britain fast tracking towards stomach straining lardiness for the majority of its population and particularly with Gordon Brown’s high profile attempts to bring obesity under control.
*The case involved the Highlands council, which levied only a small amount of VAT on fees at leisure centres to cover non-sport facilities at the gym, such as the sauna and steam room. The court ruled that since membership was all-inclusive, VAT had to be charged on the full amount.
Subsequently the Revenue made clear it would chase up VAT retrospectively if leisure centres had not been paying it- calculated to be about £20 million.