Admission to events such as agricultural shows can be exempt from VAT, but there are conditions that need to be met in order for VAT not to apply to the income.
The VAT exemption applies to charities organising events for fundraising purposes. The Great Yorkshire Show (which is operated by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society) remains one of the most popular agricultural events and attracts 140,000 visitors each year.
Nick Hart, Director, and a member of the firm’s Landed Estates and Rural Practice Group, says:
“The recent First Tier Tribunal case of Yorkshire Agricultural Society v HMRC  TC08803 has highlighted the importance of fundraising being a primary purpose of the event, and that the event is promoted as such.
“In this case the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, a registered charity, was able to successfully demonstrate it met the conditions for VAT exemption for admission charges to the Great Yorkshire Show.”
For VAT exemption to apply, the event must be organised by a charity for charitable purposes, with a primary purpose being fundraising and for that to be advertised and promoted to attendees.
Nick Hart adds:
“Another element to the case which the tribunal considered was the validity of HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC’s) assessment for VAT. The assessment for under-declared VAT was found to be ‘out of time’ because it had not been issued within one year of evidence of facts being known by HMRC. This made it sufficient to be raised as an assessment. It is always worth taking advice when a VAT assessment is received from HMRC to check it has been issued within the appropriate time limits, otherwise it is not valid and should be withdrawn.”