VAT on School Trips
Academy field trips to museums, exhibitions, countryside parks and the seaside are common ways of enriching the curriculum. Other visits may involve foreign destinations or challenging outdoor activities.
The trip is normally regarded as educational and therefore part of the core curriculum activities, such that any funding is generally made as a donation or voluntary contribution, as a compulsory payment for core educational activities cannot usually be requested.
Even if the trip requires a fixed payment for the pupil to participate the Revenue’s guidance in their internal manuals allows all school trips to be considered to be “closely related” to education. This applies even if the trip is not a compulsory or wholly essential part of the formal exam programme and so reflects the wider educational benefits of off-site activities.
This supply is therefore one that is “closely related” to education, if it is not education in its own right, meaning that it qualifies as part of the non-business activities of the academy.
|VAT Registered||Not VAT Registered|
|Income||Outside the Scope (No VAT)||-|
|Expenditure||Reclaim as Input Tax||Reclaim (VAT126)|
Activity Type: Non-Business
Points to Note / Treatment for Subsidiary
Field trips would not normally be operated by a subsidiary, but some ancillary supplies may be considered to be outside of the core educational activity, such that the subsidiary or another entity (e.g. PTA) may become involved.
Such supplies will need to be considered in their own right to establish the VAT treatment, as they are unlikely to be treated as the delivery of non-business education.
In some instances the school trip will be purchased as a package from a tour operator. There are special VAT rules, called the “Tour Operators Margin Scheme” (TOMS), that apply to such travel packages and mean that VAT will not be charged in the normal way and thus cannot be recovered. It will be important to check this before calculating the amount to charge pupils.
Any VAT or sales tax incurred on purchases made abroad cannot be directly recovered from HMRC, but in some limited circumstances VAT registered subsidiaries of academies can reclaim this VAT directly from the overseas tax authority.
Technical & Reference Material
HMRC Notice 701/30 “Education and vocational training” – section 8.2 confirms school trips are “closely related” to education.
HMRC Manuals – VATEDU51200 – “Closely related” to education activities
HMRC Notice 723A “Refunds of VAT in the European Community for EC and non-EC businesses” – covers overseas VAT recovery.