S33 bodies – overview

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • S33 bodies – overview
  • What is a public body?
  • Local authorities
  • Police authorities
  • Local government partnership programmes
  • Other local authority activities
  • Local authorities and community projects

This guidance note provides an overview of the VAT treatment of certain local authorities and similar that are referred to as 's33 bodies' from a VAT perspective. Special VAT recovery rules apply to s33 bodies ('bodies') and can recover most VAT incurred on costs associated with their non-business supplies. This note should be read in conjunction with the S33 bodies – VAT accounting guidance note.

What is a public body?

HMRC state:

2006/112/EC , Article 13; VATA 1994, s 33; HMRC Notice 749 ; De Voil Indirect Tax Service V2.108, V2.231 (subscription sensitive)

‘The term ‘public body’ takes its normal every day meaning. It includes government departments, non-departmental public bodies, NHS bodies, local government bodies, the police and the fire and rescue services.’

A list of currently accepted bodies can be found at VATGPB4300 and further bodies can be included within the scope of the s33 refund system if they are admitted via a Treasury Order.

Only bodies can apply to be included by Treasury Order if they meet the Treasury’s long-established criteria which require that they:

  • undertake a function ordinarily carried on by local government
  • have the power to draw funding directly from local taxation
Autumn Budget 2017

The Government has announced that VATA 1994 s33 has been amended in order to include the following bodies / class of bodies in order for them to recover VAT incurred in respect of their non-business activities:

Finance Act 2018 , s39
  • The Scottish Police Authority
  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • Combined Authorities
  • Fire and Rescue Service Bodies, which become a function

More on Public bodies: