Club membership

By Tolley in association with Philip Rutherford

The following Employment Tax guidance note by Tolley in association with Philip Rutherford provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Club membership
  • Introduction
  • Club subscriptions
  • Reporting requirements


The provision of a club membership by an employer to an employee almost always gives rise to a taxable benefit. How the membership is paid determines the tax and NIC treatment. The rare circumstance in which there is no taxable benefit is highlighted below.

Club subscriptions

As there is almost always some personal element to a club membership or subscription, it almost always gives rise to a taxable benefit. The cost of the membership fees is the amount subject to tax and NIC.

For example, if an employer pays for a golf club’s green fees for a member of staff, the individual can use the club for his own leisure purposes in addition to any business-related use (eg client entertainment).

How the amount is paid or reimbursed has an impact on the tax and reporting requirements, which are outlined below.

HMRC guidance is at EIM21696.

When are the fees not taxable?

The leading case in this area is Elwood v Utitz, in which the taxpayer argued that there was no taxable personal element to a subscription to a club that offered both accommodation and recreational facilities. The individual was required to travel and stay in overnight accommodation as part of his job and calculated that if he paid the subscription fee he would actually save his employer money as against a hotel. The subscription was allowable because the only reason

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