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HMRC internal manual

VAT Sport Manual

Further information on the scope of the exemption: Distinction between an animal show and competition

Normally it is not difficult to distinguish between an animal show and a competition in sport or physical recreation that may involve animals. Entry fees for the former are standard-rated and the latter may be exempt, subject to the normal rules explained elsewhere in this section of the guidance. However, the distinction may become blurred when animals are partially assessed, according to their level of performance in competitive activities. The difficulty is most likely to arise in connection with pony clubs.

A pony show may have several different classes in which a pony and its rider may be entered. The classes could include any of the following:

  • in- hand classes - rider leads pony around a ring and it is awarded points for its appearance;
  • ridden classes - pony is ridden around a ring and awarded points for its appearance;
  • jumping classes - pony is ridden over jumps and awarded points for appearance or clear rounds, or both;
  • dressage classes - pony performs various actions (walking, trotting, cantering, etc.) and is awarded points for style, obedience and manner.

With the exception of the jumping classes, the above are all concerned with examining the animals’ particular attributes such as condition and temper. These are the typical objects of assessment at animal shows and entry fees for shows comprising these classes only will be standard-rated.

By contrast, jumping classes where the animals are assessed wholly or partly for completing penalty- free rounds are akin to sporting competitions. Therefore, it is permissible to exempt a part of the entry fee for animal shows containing this class of entry, provided that the normal requirements for exemption are also satisfied.