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HMRC internal manual

VAT Land and Property

Fishing and shooting (Item 1c): shooting in hand

Paragraph 6.3 of Notice 742 Land and property describes this type of supply, and the conditions which must be met for the supply to be treated as non-business. If a taxpayer does not fulfil all the conditions, the supply should be treated as ‘business’ and is therefore standard rated.

The business question was raised in the tribunal case Rt Hon Lord Fisher ([1981] STC 238):

At Tribunal, the appellant argued against the Commissioners’ ruling that the payment for ‘guns’ in his shoot, received from friends and relations, was for a standard rated supply of shooting rights.

In allowing the appeal the tribunal concluded that the taxable supplies were made in the course of arranging a shoot for pleasure and social enjoyment. Although it was done in a business-like manner, this did not have the effect of turning what is essentially a non-business activity into a business.

The Commissioners appealed to the High Court but the High Court Judge agreed with the Tribunal’s decision. In considering the case the Judge identified the following relevant factors in deciding if a shoot is a business:

  • whether the shoot is run for a profit,
  • whether the source of participants has been widened outside a genuine circle of friends and relations,
  • the intensifying of the activity beyond what is normal for a private shoot, and 
  • whether advertising has been used to obtain custom or participants.

If all of the above factors are present, the activity is a business one.