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HMRC internal manual

VAT Trade Unions and Professional Bodies

Trade unions and professional bodies: Criteria that all the bodies must fulfil: General

For any organisation seeking exemption for its membership supplies under “group 9” of “schedule 9” to the “VAT Act 1994”, there are two sets of criteria to be satisfied.

  • The first set of criteria is contained in the first four lines of “Item 1” (see VTUPB1400). These criteria have to be met irrespective of whether the organisation is a “trade union”, a “professional association”, a learned society or a representational trade association.
  • The second set of criteria is found within subsections (a) to (e) of “Item 1” and the “Notes” to that “Item” (see VTUPB1400). These are additional requirements that particular types of organisation must meet before exemption can be granted. They are explained in VTUPB3000, VTUPB4000, VTUPB5000, VTUPB6000 and VTUPB6500.

There are three common criteria which all types of “group 9” bodies must fulfil:

  • the supplies for which exemption is sought must be “referable only” to the “aims” of the organisation (VTUPB2200);
  • the supplies in question must be supplied only in return for the membership subscription (VTUPB2300);
  • the organisation must be non-profit-making (VTUPB2400).

Federal bodies

“Note (3)” to “Item 1” of “Group 9” provides as follows: “Item 1 shall include organisations and associations the membership of which consists wholly or mainly of constituent or affiliated associations which as individual associations would be comprised in the item; and “member” shall be construed as including such an association and “membership subscription” shall include an affiliation fee or similar levy.”

This extends exemption to bodies whose membership is largely made up of other constituent or affiliated bodies which qualify under “Item 1” on their own.