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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Other local authority activities: miscellaneous (F to M): freedom of information requests

Ordinarily the provision of information is standard rated unless zero-rated as printed matter. However, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 places obligations on public authorities, including all local authorities, police authorities and Government Departments, to provide information if requested. Section 9 of the Act provides powers for them to charge for this.

Where they are obliged to provide the information any charges are non-business. Non-business treatment also extends to information supplied even if there no obligation to do so because the cost is too high (currently set at £450 for local authorities), but the authority nevertheless opts to do so albeit for a charge.

There is no obligation for authorities to provide information that is available from other sources. This applies even if the enquirer cannot readily access those other sources, for example because they do not have internet access. Information provided in these circumstances is by way of business.