V5.162A VAT refunds for museums and galleries

Part V5 Compliance, enforcement and appeals

V5.162A VAT refunds for museums and galleries

V5.162A VAT refunds for museums and galleries

With certain exceptions1, the provision of goods and services for no consideration is not a supply for VAT purposes2. Consequently, VAT on costs relating to the provision of such goods and services is not, generally speaking, recoverable. This situation led to many museums and galleries charging an admission fee so that VAT incurred on purchases could be recovered (the admission fee being a taxable supply3 made in the course or furtherance of a business4).

The Government's 2001 pre-election manifesto promised to ensure that the main national museums and galleries would be 'free for everyone from December [2001]'. As a result, VATA 1994, s 33A5 provides for refunds of VAT in respect of costs which are attributable to free admissions to certain museums and galleries. With effect from 16 March 2016 the scheme is no longer limited to national museums and galleries.

Conditions for VAT refund

HMRC shall make a refund of VAT charged on the supply of goods or services, or the acquisition or importation of goods where6:


    •     the supply, acquisition or importation is attributable to the provision by a body specified by order of the Treasury of free rights of admission to a relevant museum or gallery


    •     the supply, acquisition or importation takes place on or after 1 April 2001, or a later date as specified by the Treasury in an order


    •     a claim is made in a form determined by HMRC, and


    •     the claim is made before the end

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