Tag Archives: management services

Constable VAT Focus 01 February 2019


Goods or Services Supplied to Charities

Find out when suppliers can apply the VAT zero rate VAT for advertisements and goods used for the collection of donations.

Software Suppliers for Sending VAT Returns

Find out which software packages support the Making Tax Digital pilots.

VAT Supply and Consideration

Payments that are not consideration: Grants. This section of guidance will help you determine whether a payment described as a grant is consideration for a supply of goods or services and will be of particular interest to charities and other not-for-profit organisations in receipt of grant funding.

Customs, VAT and Excise Regulations: Leaving the EU with No Deal

This collection brings together regulations, explanatory memoranda and an impact assessment in preparation for day one if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.





1. The Deductibility of Input Tax Incurred by Branches

This case concerned the Paris branch of Morgan Stanley and whether it was entitled to deduct input VAT it incurred on expenditure relating exclusively to the transactions of its principal establishment in another member state of the EU. The branch carries out banking and financial transaction for its local clients as well as supplying services to the UK principal establishment and had deducted in full the VAT incurred relating to both types of supply. The domestic tax authorities believed that this input VAT should not be fully deductible but that it should be apportioned using the principal establishments input VAT recovery fraction.

The main question which arose before the Court was whether the proportion of recoverable VAT incurred by the branch relating exclusively to the transactions of its principal establishment should be calculated in line with the branches or the principal’s input VAT recovery rate. It was also asked what rules should be applied in relation to expenditure relating to both transactions by the branch and by the principal.

Giving extensive consideration to the wealth of case law surrounding this subject, the Court decided that, in relation to the first question, that neither of the suggested calculations was correct. It was held that in relation to such expenditure, the associated input VAT is deductible in line with a fraction calculated as:

“Taxable transaction which would be deductible if carried out in branches states / Turnover (excl. VAT) made up of those transactions alone”

With regard to the second question of general costs of the branch which are used for both domestic transactions and transactions with the principal branch it was decided that account must be taken, in the denominator of the fraction, of the transactions carried out by both the branch and the principal establishment. The numerator of the fraction must represent the taxed transactions carried out by the branch and the taxed transaction carried out by the principal establishment.

Constable Comment: This confirms that VAT incurred by branches on expenses relating to supporting its head office are recoverable by looking thorugh to the supplies made by the head office. The calculations for the recoverable amount of input VAT are complicated, especially where the look through reveals the head office to be making both taxable and exempt supplies. If your business makes supplies to a head office it would be prudent to seek professional clarification of the correct treatment of input VAT incurred in relation to these supplies. 


Upper Tribunal

2. Welfare Services Exemption

The question before the Tribunal in two cases (The Learning Centre Romford & LIFE Services) was whether the UK’s implementation of the VAT exemption for welfare services had been unlawful by infringing the EU principle of fiscal neutrality.

The Learning Centre Romford (TLC) is a private company which provides vulnerable adults with education and entertainment. It also supplies meals and associated palliative care such as assistance with eating and administering medication with the aim of teaching the clients to be independent and to live healthy lives. It takes on as clients only those who have a care plan given by the local authority from which TLC receives funding. TLC had treated these supplies as exempt as the provision of welfare services by a state regulated institution. HMRC believed these supplies to be taxable at the standard rate as they were provided by a private company.

TLC argues that they were state regulated as it was a requirement for them to DBS check staff members and, in any case, the fact that private welfare providers akin to itself are in fact exempt from VAT in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was contended that this infringed the principle of fiscal neutrality.

LIFE Services provided the same style of care as TLC but as it did not provide care at the client’s home it did not fall within the statutory regulation regime and was therefore not exempt from VAT.

HMRC argued that it was not the UK’s implementation of the exemption which had caused a disparity between Scottish and English welfare providers but that this situation had arisen as a result of the devolved legislature’s actions. The Tribunal agreed with HMRC, finding that in a devolved system it is inevitable that certain matters will diverge and, therefore, the principle of fiscal neutrality was not infringed. In allowing HMRC’s appeal on this ground, both cases were dismissed and the services of both LIFE and TLC were held to be taxable. This overturned the First Tier Tribunal’s previous decision.

Constable Comment: This was an interesting joint case which focussed on an area of disparity between the implementation of EU law in England and other devolved powers such as Scotland and Wales. Whilst there is a difference in the ways in which the law operates in different areas of the UK, the Tribunal found that this is as a result of the devolved powers implementations and not a failure of the UK to adhere to an EU Directive. This decision will also be interesting to charities which may wish to step outside of the VAT welfare exemption. For example, if VAT exempt welfare services supplied by a charity were carried out by a wholly owned trading subsidiary instead, would generating taxable supplies be advantageous?


First Tier Tribunal

3. Direct and Immediate Link with Taxable Supplies

This case concerned whether or not there was a direct and immediate link between input VAT incurred by Adullam Homes Housing Association (AHHA) and its taxable supplies of support services. AHHA is a partially exempt business making taxable supplies of support services and exempt supplies of accommodation.

The dispute arose with regard to whether input tax incurred on acquiring, maintaining, repairing and cleaning accommodation can be linked to the taxable supply of support services or if, as HMRC contend, there is no such link and this input VAT is wholly irrecoverable. AHHA sought to argue that the acquisition and maintenance of accommodation was necessary as part of the overall supply made of accommodation based support services.

The Tribunal gave extensive consideration to case law around the issue of attribution of input VAT incurred by a partially exempt business. The conclusion was reached that the costs, whilst related to the provision of accommodation, were incurred in order that the Appellant had clean, safe and secure premises to enable it to bid for accommodation based support contracts. This constituted a direct and immediate link with the provision of support services.

It follows from this conclusion that the inputs incurred by AHHA in relation to maintain the accommodation were residual and fell to be recovered in line with their partial exemption percentage.

Constable Comment: Certain difficulties present themselves when performing partial exemption calculations, one of the most common is in deciding whether particular inputs should be directly attributed to taxable or exempt supplies or if they fall to be apportioned. Where looking through to the recipients onward supplies it can become difficult to ascertain the correct treatment of input VAT in line with the principles highlighted in this case. If your business is partially exempt and the calculations are complicated it is advisable to regularly review the attribution of VAT incurred and to seek professional clarification to ensure compliance if any obligation exists.



Constable VAT Focus 10 January 2019



VAT MOSS Exchange Rates

December 2018’s VAT MOSS Exchange Rates have been published

VAT Payment Deadline Calculator

Work out the VAT payment deadline for your accounting period. You cannot use this calculator if you make payments on account or use the annual accounting scheme.

Flat Rate Scheme for Small Businesses

Find out how to use the Flat Rate Scheme, who can us it and how to apply to join the scheme.

Importing Goods for Disabled People Free of Duty and VAT

This notice explains how to import goods specially designed for disabled people free of duty and VAT.






1. Special Scheme for Travel Agents

This case concerned the supply of holiday residences rented by Alpenchalets Resorts GmbH (Alpenchalets) and subsequently let in its own name to private customers as holiday rentals. Alongside the supply of holiday rental property, Alpenchalets also provided cleaning services and, in some cases, a laundry and “bread roll” service.

Alpenchalets calculated its VAT liability on the basis of profit margin as permitted by the special scheme for travel agents. In 2013 Alpenchaltes wrote to the German tax authorities requesting that it be allowed to apply the reduced rate of VAT (7%). This permission was refused so Alpenchalets brought proceedings before the German Courts which referred the issue to the CJEU for a ruling on whether the supply of a service which is essentially holiday accommodation is subject to the special margin scheme for travel agents and, if so, if that supply could also be liable to the reduced rate of German VAT.

The first question asked whether the activity of supplying holiday accommodation, alongside ancillary services such as cleaning, could still benefit from the special margin scheme where the agent (Alpenchalets) provided its own services as well as the accommodation bought in from third parties. The Court considered that as the mere supply of accommodation by an agent is covered by the scheme, the ancillary services do not have a bearing on the scheme’s applicability to the supply.

With regard to the second question, The Court found that single services provided by travel agents are not described within the legislation allowing certain supplies the reduced rate of VAT. The supplies made by Alpenchalets were subject to the standard rate of VAT.

Constable Comment:  This case confirms that under EU law, the supply of holiday accommodation on its own is capable of being caught by the Tour Operators Margin Scheme; it is not necessary for other supplies alongside the accommodation. The Tour Operators Margin Scheme is simple in theory but can often cause problems when it comes to practical application. If you are, or think you may be entitled to be, operating a margin scheme then it is prudent to seek professional advice to ensure compliance.


2. The VAT Liability of Royalties

This case concerned the VAT liability of royalties payable to an author of an original work of art on the basis of the resale right.

The European Commission contended that royalty payments should not be liable to VAT as they are not payment in exchange for goods or services. The State of Austria sought to argue that such payments should be liable to VAT on the basis that just because the author of a work of art does not take part in the agreement between the buyer and seller of the art, does not preclude taxation of that payment.

In essence, Austria argued that the payment was in exchange for goods or services; the author has created a work of art and has profited from its supply thus establishing a direct link between service supplied and the value given in return.

The Court considered that a supply of goods or services is made for consideration only if there is a legal relationship between the supplier and the customer, in the context of which there is reciprocal performance; the remuneration received by the supplier constituting the value actually given in return for the goods or services supplied. Whilst The State of Austria contended that the royalty payable constituted consideration for an exchange of services giving rise to a legal relationship.

In concluding, the Court ruled that a legal relationship arises only between the buyer and seller of a piece of art, if the sale is a resale then the only legal relationship created is between the supplier and the customer; the artist is not a party to this relationship. Therefore there should be no VAT payable on royalty sums received.

Constable Comment: Giving consideration to some of the fundamentals of the VAT system and contract law was helpful in this case. This case is useful as a demonstration of how the European Commission can seek to enforce a uniform interpretation of the VAT law.


Upper Tribunal


3. Exemption for Management of Special Investment Funds

This appeal by Blackrock concerned the VAT exemption for the supply of management services which relate to special investment funds (SIFs) and whether a single supply of management services to Blackrock could be apportioned between SIF and non-SIF to reflect that exemption.

The Tribunal gave consideration to whether the supply to the SIFs could be seen as one of management services, asserting that it would only be possible to consider apportionment if there was anything to be apportioned: the European exemption applies specifically to management of SIFs, not merely a supply of services to a SIF. Relying on a rich tapestry of case law, the Tribunal concluded that the services supplied to Blackrock were management services and were therefore capable of exemption.

Having decided that the supplies were capable of benefiting from the exemption, the Tribunal turned to the question of whether the single supply to Blackrock was capable of being apportioned in line with its use by Blackrock as relating to SIFs and non-SIFs; non-SIF management being a taxable supply. Blackrock sought to argue that, in order to give effect to the exemption from which the supplies benefited it was necessary to allow apportionment of the supply. This argument had been rejected by the FTT on the ground that if apportionment were to be allowed then a precedent could be set allowing apportionment in relation to other composite supplies where the ancillary element is exempt.

After a length consideration of case law and relevant EU legislation, The Tribunal concluded that it is equally arguable that apportionment of the services should be allowed and that it should not, no conclusion was reached on this topic. The Tribunal stayed the appeal in order to seek guidance from the CJEU.

Constable Comment: This case gave a long and considered analysis of what can and cannot be regarded as management services for the purpose of the exemption in question. Whilst a conclusion was not reached around the apportionment issue, the clarification offered by the considerations given in regard to the first question is no doubt of use to any business supplying management services and seeking to benefit from the exemption. We await a CJEU decision on whether or not apportionment of these supplies is acceptable.