Does amusement tax cover golf courses?

A golf course does not qualify as a "place of amusement," which may be subjected to amusement tax by a local government unit.

Section 140 of the LGC provides amusement tax on theaters, cinemas, concert halls, circuses, boxing stadia and other places of amusement. “Other places of amusement” pertains to venues where one seeks admission to entertain oneself by seeing or viewing the show or performances or being venues primarily used to stage spectacles or hold public show and other events meant to be viewed by an audience. A golf course cannot be considered a place of amusement. People go to a golf course to enjoy themselves in a physical sports activity, the same reason why people go to a gym or court to play badminton or tennis or to a shooting range for target practice. They do not enter a golf course to see or view a show or performance. (Alta Vista Golf and Country Club v. The City of Cebu et al., G.R. No. 180235, 20 January 2016)

As defined in The New Oxford American Dictionary, 'show' means "a spectacle or display of something, typically an impressive one"; while 'performance' means "an act of staging or presenting a play, a conceit, or other form of entertainment." As such, the ordinary definitions of the words 'show' and 'performance' denote not only visual engagement (i.e., the seeing or viewing of things) but also active doing (e.g., displaying, staging or presenting) such that actions are manifested to, and (correspondingly) perceived by an audience.

In Philippine Basketball Association v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 119122, August 8, 2000), the Supreme Court had an opportunity to interpret a starkly similar provision or the counterpart provision of Section 140 of the LGC in the Local Tax Code then in effect. Petitioner Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) contended that it was subject to the imposition by LGUs of amusement taxes (as opposed to amusement taxes imposed by the national government). In support of its contentions, it cited Section 13 of Presidential Decree No. 231, otherwise known as the Local Tax Code of 1973, (which is analogous to Section 140 of the LGC) providing the following:
Section 13. Amusement tax on admission. — The province shall impose a tax on admission to be collected from the proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement xxx.
Applying the principle of ejusdem generis, the Supreme Court rejected PBA's assertions and noted that:
[I]n determining the meaning of the phrase 'other places of amusement', one must refer to the prior enumeration of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls and circuses with artistic expression as their common characteristic. Professional basketball games do not fall under the same category as theaters, cinematographs, concert halls and circuses as the latter basically belong to artistic forms of entertainment while the former caters to sports and gaming.

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