RCB/13/09 VAT—leisure trusts providing all-inclusive membership schemes
Revenue & Customs Brief, Issue 13. 20 March 2009
HMRC is amending its interpretation of the law and therefore its guidance on the VAT treatment of membership schemes allowing unlimited access to leisure facilities in a leisure centre. Businesses that will be most affected are community leisure centres that are run by non- profit making trusts. Supplies made by commercial organisations are not affected and remain taxable at the standard rate.
This brief supersedes the advice given in Revenue & Customs Brief 50/07 (RCB/50/07, Division V16.3).
Supplies of services closely linked with and essential to sport or physical education, in which an individual takes part, are exempt from VAT when supplied by an “eligible body” (essentially a non-profit making body not subject to commercial influence) as set out in the VATA 1994, Sch 9, Group 10 (Sport, Sports Competitions and Physical Education). Previously, HMRC's view was that where a scheme offers, over a period, unlimited use of a variety of both taxable and exempt facilities, typically in return for a monthly or annual payment, there is generally a single supply of the standard rated right to use the facilities. However, following representations from the leisure industry and taking into account the comments made in the Court of Appeal in HMRC v Weight Watchers (UK) Ltd  (STC 2313) about the typical consumer, we no longer see the supply as a right to use the services but as being the