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HMRC internal manual

VAT Education Manual

Group 6 Item 2 Private tuition and tutorial colleges: scope of the private tuition exemption

When an individual teacher supplies education or training in a personal capacity or as a member of a partnership, on their own account and at their own risk, the supply is exempt under item 2 of Group 6 of Schedule 9 of the VAT Act 1994, provided that the instruction is in a subject ordinarily taught in a school or university. The exemption applies equally to partners in limited liability partnerships.

What does ‘ordinarily taught in a school or university’ mean?

In Simon Newell t/a Chiltern Young Riders (TC04689), the FTT referred to the guidance in both Haderer and Hocking (see VATEDU40300) on the meaning of “ordinarily taught in school or university”.  In those cases, it was held that the activity must be one in which instruction is commonly given.  Although an activity might be included, exceptionally, as part of a school curriculum this would not be sufficient for it to be regarded as part of school or university education.  The tribunals found it helpful to ask themselves the question whether the activity was only taught infrequently.  (School or university education includes education ordinarily provided by further education colleges.)

What does ‘subject’ mean?

In Simon Newell, the focus was on the subject that was actually being taught and that had to be one that was commonly taught in schools or universities, and not one that was purely recreational.  The subject had to be part of school or university education and the supply one of tuition in the sense of a transfer of knowledge or skill in that subject or activity.  Other tribunals have expressed differing views about the need for comparability between what is being taught privately and what is taught in school or university (see under Cheruvier - VATEDU40300).  Until, there is a binding decision in that respect, each case should therefore be assessed on its own overall merits, but the guidance in Newell should be considered.

The purpose or the recipients of the private tuition do not determine the VAT treatment but may be an indication of whether the tuition is likely to be of a subject ordinarily taught in a school or university.

Where there is any doubt that the subject is one taught in a school or university the business will be required to produce evidence to support their claim.

Conditions that do not preclude exempt treatment

For the purposes of this exemption it is irrelevant whether the individual teacher:

  • delivers the instruction to one person or to a group;
  • contracts with an individual, or with an organisation that makes an onward supply of the educational services; or
  • works under a franchise agreement that allows him or her to use the teaching methods, name or trading style of another person or organisation.

Sporting and recreational activities

Instruction and coaching in sporting and recreational activities qualify as exempt private tuition, provided that the supply meets all the other necessary conditions.

Motorcycle and car driving instruction

In Simon Newell, instruction in motocross riding, motorcycle repair and maintenance to children did not meet the requirements of the exemption for private tuition.

Our view is that car-driving lessons, carried out on public highways, are not a subject ordinarily taught in a school or university, so are not covered by this exemption.