VAT: educational exemption for catering

HMRC has issued Revenue & Customs Brief 39/2014: VAT exemption for catering and other services linked to education

This brief looks at the educational exemption with regard to catering, setting out HMRC’s position post the Upper Tribunal decision.

Brockenhurst College made two voluntary disclosures for supplies that it believed should be covered by the educational exemption:

  • supplies from its restaurant using training chefs, restaurant managers and hospitality
  • supplies of tickets for concerts and live performances put on by students as part of their educational course.

The voluntary disclosure was made on the basis that these were exempt educational supplies.

The First Tier Tribunal (FTT) decided in favour of the college on the basis that the supplies were closely linked to educational exempt supplies as:

  • the college was an eligible body, its principle supply being exempt education;
  • the supplies were integral and essential in making its exempt education supplies;
  • the supplies were made below cost;
  • the supplies were not publically advertised; and
  • the supplies were not intended to create an additional source of income.

HMRC rejected this decision and appealed to the Upper Tribunal (UT), which agreed with the earlier FTT decision, adding that they were supplies of exempt education as they enabled the students to enjoy better education.

HMRC has not changed its policy and still firmly believes that these specified supplies made by Brockenhurst College are outside the educational exemption and therefore are standard rated.  

This stance will remain until a decision by the Court of Appeal is made, the case is expected to be heard in February 2015.

In the meantime, HMRC is open to receiving retrospective claims in line with VAT Notice 700/45 and in accordance with the standard four-year time limit.  

If you have a valid claim, it should state clearly:

'Claim Made Under the Upper Tribunal’s Decision in Brockenhurst College HMRC Brief 39/14'.  

For details on how to make a claim, please view VAT Notice 700/45

More information

The Revenue and Customs Brief 39 (2014) sets out HM Revenue and Customs position on the litigation in Brockenhurst College following the decision of the Upper Tribunal.