Germany's federal fiscal court BFH agreed with plaintiffs, including Berlin's legendary Berghain club, that they should not have to pay the standard 19 percent VAT on ticket sales when concert venues enjoy a lower rate of seven percent.
In a ruling on October 29th, the court found that “the average visitor” at a techno or house club was there primarily for the music and the DJs, making club nights “similar to concerts”, regardless of whether there were singers or musicians playing instruments.
The DJs do more than just play tracks, “they perform their own new pieces of music using instruments in the broader sense, to create new sound sequences that have their own character,” the judges said.
The decision is a rare piece of good news for German nightclubs, which have been forced to keep their doors closed for more than six months now because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Party hotspot Berlin, home to iconic clubs like KitKat, Sage and Tresor that usually draw thousands of revellers, has been especially hard hit by the shutdowns.
Fears are growing that despite government aid, short-time work schemes and crowdfunding efforts, not all venues will survive the crisis.