Bridge is not a sport and can’t have tax break, says European Court of Justice –

Bridge is not a sport, European Union judges ruled today, in a decision that dealt a blow to British clubs’ hopes of a VAT tax break.

To be classified as a sport under EU tax law, the European Court of Justice said this morning, an activity must have a significant physical element. Duplicate bridge, while played competitively at national and international level, is a card game.

The EU’s VAT Directive, which is law in Britain, gives tax breaks to services closely linked to sport. The English Bridge Union (EBU), which organises duplicate bridge tournaments, applied to British tax authorities for a refund on the 20 per cent VAT for the entry fees to its competitions.

It argued that duplicate bridge, which is played in pairs, should be considered a sport for VAT purposes as it promotes physical and mental well-being.

After tax authorities rejected the application, the EBU took them to a UK court, which said bridge was a game of chance rather than a sport.  After that was appealed, Britain’s Upper Tribunal asked the European court to clarify whether duplicate bridge could be considered a sport under the terms of the VAT Directive.

The European Court of Justice clarifies points of EU law for national courts, who then make a decision based on that clarification.