Commentary

V4.161 Exemption—sport, sports competitions and physical education

Part V4 Exemption, zero-rating and reduced rates

V4.161 Exemption—sport, sports competitions and physical education

Sports

V4.161 Exemption—sport, sports competitions and physical education

EU legislation

The exemption extended to certain sporting activities is derived from Directive 2006/112/EC, art 132(1)(m)1, which exempts 'certain services closely linked to sport or physical education supplied by non-profit making organisations to persons taking part in sport or physical education'. The limitation of this article to services provided by non-profit-making organisations precludes member states from providing a general exemption in relation to sporting activities2. The exemption extends to the provision of 'non-organised, unsystematic and recreational sporting activities which can be carried on in that manner in an open-air swimming-pool complex (for instance, recreational swimming, recreational playing of ball games, etc)'3.

UK legislation

The exemption extended to certain sporting services in the UK is conferred by VATA 1994, Sch 9, Group 10. For HMRC's practice, see Notice 701/45/16 (May 2016) (Part V8).

Definition of 'sport'

HMRC has issued a list of activities which it regards as sports or types of physical education qualifying for exemption4. Not all the activities involve a substantial degree of physical activity (billiards, snooker and darts are included)5. However, a Tribunal decided that the element of physical activity required to play contract or duplicate bridge was insufficient for it to qualify as a sport6. On appeal, however, the Upper Tribunal7 referred the case to the CJEU8 on the grounds that member states appeared to have differing views on the question: 'That meaning [of 'sport'] is an autonomous meaning, one that should be of general application amongst all member states.

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