National museums and galleries ― VAT refund scheme

Produced by Tolley
National museums and galleries ― VAT refund scheme

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

  • National museums and galleries ― VAT refund scheme
  • VAT position
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Libraries
  • VAT groups
  • New eligible bodies
  • Recovering VAT under section 33A
  • Free admission
  • VAT that cannot be recovered under section 33A
  • VAT registered organisations ― making a claim
  • More...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marked the end of the Brexit transition / implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time, key transitional arrangements came to an end and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s VAT and customs regime. This document contains guidance on subjects potentially impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see the Brexit — overview guidance note.

This guidance note provides an overview of the refund scheme that can be used by certain cultural organisations to recover VAT incurred on costs where they allow people to access the facility free of charge.

VAT position

If a museum or gallery grants free access to its premises then it will not be viewed as conducting a business activity in respect of this facility. Normally businesses who engage in non-business activities cannot recover the VAT incurred on associated costs. However, HMRC has introduced a VAT refund scheme that enables certain organisations to recover this VAT under VATA 1994, s 33A. The organisation must be contained in a list issued by HM Treasury in order to qualify.

A list of the VATA 1994, s 33A bodies that can obtain a refund can be found in HMRC Notice 998.

If an organisation is not currently listed as a VATA 1994, s 33A body it cannot exempt its admissions fees from VAT. If a body considers that it should be included in the VATA 1994, s 33A list its request will be considered but is unlikely to be successful unless it is supported by one of the following:

  1. Department for Culture, Media and Sport

  2. Welsh Assembly Government

  3. Northern Ireland Assembly

  4. Scottish Government

  5. Ministry of Defence

Organisations that are seeking approval to join the list of VATA 1994, s 33A bodies should write to the relevant government department or administration listed above in the first instance. Completing the form does not guarantee that the organisation will be granted

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