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HMRC internal manual

VAT Education Manual

Group 6 Item 3 Examination services services including school inspections: services not qualifying as examination services

Examination services do not include the services of:

  • printers;
  • graphic designers;
  • typesetters;
  • secretarial;
  • advertising;
  • promotional services; and
  • public relations (PR) agents.

As a rule of thumb, a particular service will fall within the scope of item 3 only if it is clearly and unmistakably an examination service rather than a general service that could be provided in any context.

RM Education

In RM Education plc (V20911) the Appellant supplied IT services (‘E-marking’) to an examination board. HMRC ruled that RM was required to account for VAT on these supplies. RM was exempting its supply to an examination syndicate, on the basis that the board was an eligible body within the meaning of VAT Act 1994 Schedule 9 Group 6 Item 3(a) Note (4).

The Tribunal decided that the Appellant’s services were too remote and not sufficiently closely linked to education to fit into Note (4).

They held that each limb of Note 4 should be considered separately, and that the final limb of other services must be construed as its own distinct residual category but coloured by the nature of the services described in the first three limbs. In short, other services did not stretch to any service provided with the view to maintaining educational standards but was restricted to those services that were closely related to education with a view to maintaining educational standards.

The Appellant’s supply of IT services was separate and distinct from the syndicate’s supply of examination services. This was substantiated by the fact that the syndicate still provided examination services for some subjects using the traditional paper-based process. The Tribunal held that the Appellant’s supplies were not examination services, and the appeal was thus dismissed