In University of Southampton Students’ Union (USSU) v HMRC [2020] TC07896, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) held that the USSU’s sales of hot food and coffee did not fall within the exemption for the provision of education and VAT was payable.

USSU made a claim of overpaid output tax of about £158,000 which HMRC denied. The taxpayer argued that both the supply of hot food and coffee by the student's union shop are exempt from VAT:

  • As supplies made by an eligible body. 
  • Supplies were closely related to the principal supply of education (which is exempt) made by the University of Southampton or vocational training by USSU.

HMRC disagreed and argued:

  • That these supplies were not closely related to education.
  • That USSU was not an eligible body.  

USSU appealed HMRC’s decision to the FTT. The FTT dismissed the appeal on the basis that:·      

  • USSU does not satisfy the definition of vocational training.
  • The supplies of hot food and coffee were not closely related to a supply of education or vocational training.
  • USSU does not satisfy the definition of an 'eligible body'.

Useful guides on this topic

Education & VAT
What rate of VAT applies to education? What sort of services are classed as education? What do you do if your have multiple supplies including education? What cases are there on VAT and education?

External link

University of Southampton Students’ Union v HMRC [2020] TC07896

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