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HMRC internal manual

VAT Land and Property

HM Revenue & Customs
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What is a 'similar establishment' to a hotel, inn, or boarding house?: meaning of 'similar establishment', disregarding the extended meaning given by Note (9)

A large number of tribunals have considered the meaning of the phrase ‘similar establishment’ within item 1(d). It is clear from those decisions that whether or not an establishment is ‘similar’ to a hotel, inn or boarding house is principally a question of fact and impression. This means that it is possible that different tribunals might reach different decisions on the same facts, particularly in borderline cases.

Tribunals have applied two main approaches in deciding whether accommodation is being provided in a ‘similar establishment’.

(i) They have looked at the ‘underlying purpose’ of the establishment and what it seeks to provide to its users. Some helpful indicators can be identified from those decisions.

(ii) They have compared the characteristics and functions of the establishment with those typically provided by hotels, inns and boarding houses. This method requires the various similarities and dissimilarities to be weighed up and a decision made as to whether on balance treatment as a similar establishment is appropriate.

These approaches are explained more fully 11340.