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HMRC internal manual

VAT Trade Unions and Professional Bodies

Trade unions and professional bodies: Item 1(b) professional associations: Appropriate qualifications

The qualifications held or sought must relate to what is a recognised profession. This is apparent from the Court’s decision in the “Committee of Directors of Polytechnics” (VTUPB4100). The members were all professionals because they held qualifications at degree level or equivalents. However, this did not satisfy this requirement of “Item 1(b)” because these were not qualifications in being a director of a polytechnic, a post for which no particular qualification was necessary or customary. Therefore, even had directorship of a polytechnic been found to be a “profession”, it is doubtful that the members’ qualifications would have been found to be “appropriate”.

The qualifications should be obligatory or customary to enable the profession to be undertaken, and should be awarded by the association of which the holder is a member. In the “Association of Payroll and Superannuation Administrators”, membership of the Association was restricted to persons holding or seeking a Certificate in Payroll and Superannuation Administration. However, this qualification was awarded by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). Successful candidates obtained neither membership of CIPFA nor any privileges relating to that body. They were not therefore qualified chartered accountants, but holders of a qualification that was concerned with a particular job within narrow confines and for which the qualification was neither obligatory nor customary.