CJEU rules bridge card game is not a sport for the purposes of the VAT Directive

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that duplicate bridge is not a ‘sport’ for the purposes of the VAT Directive and cannot therefore be exempt as such.

The judgment is a request for a preliminary ruling from Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) in United Kingdom (Case C-90/16 The English Bridge Union).

The case was brought up by the English Bridge Union (EBU), a national body responsible for regulating 'duplicate bridge' in England and organising tournaments. The Union asked for tax exemptions on the entry fees to its competitions under the VAT Directive which gives tax breaks to services closely linked to sport and physical education.

According to the Court, in the context of the VAT directive to be given the status of a sport, an activity must involve “a not negligible physical element”. However, the Court does not preclude Member States from regarding duplicate bridge as coming under the concept of ‘cultural services’ within the meaning of the directive.

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