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HMRC internal manual

VAT Business/Non-Business Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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VAT registration scheme for racehorse owners: agents

Most transactions within the bloodstock industry involve a bloodstock agent. They can act on behalf of the purchaser, the vendor or as an intermediary.

As well as acting in an agency capacity, bloodstock agents frequently act as a principal. When acting as a principal the agent is both receiving and supplying the goods or services. They should account for output tax accordingly.

It is important to confirm the capacity in which a bloodstock agent is acting. Often this will depend on the particular customer and whether the supply is one of goods or services.

Because of the international nature of the bloodstock industry, UK agents frequently attend sales in other major racing countries, for example the Keeneland sales in Kentucky. This can involve purchasing horses for UK, EC or non-EC residents. They may act as an agent or principal in buying a horse, or may just act as a consultant.

Also it is quite common for agents to bid on behalf of clients at an auction, and then instruct the auctioneer to ‘turnover’ the lot to their client. The ‘turnover’ refers to invoicing instructions whereby the auctioneer invoices the client and not the agent. Accordingly the agent would only invoice the client for commission.

Further guidance on agent/principal issues and the liability of activities involving non-UK clients or transactions can be found in: