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Sports Coach - Income VAT exemption

Sports Coach - Income VAT exemption

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My client is a Limited Company. The client runs tennis lessons/coaching sessions in a school during Curriculum time and the school day.

My client invoices the school. The school then pass on charges as they see fit to parents.

My client also runs afterschool sessions which parents pay for directly.

All of the sessions happen at the school venue. My clients turnover is in excess of the VAT threshold.

My client has many peers who also run coaching companies, both as sole traders and limited companies.Apparently their accountants are adamant that the income is exempt from VAT on the basis of - what?

My research indicates that my clients income from coaching is not exempt as

  • it supplies services to a body not an individual
  • it is not non profit making

I'm (and my client) struggling to understand on what basis his peers who apparently are commercial businesses would be VAT exempt given that they are also over the VAT threshold. Clearly we are talking about a not insignificant amount of money; my client is not convinced which advice to take. Starting to doubt myself as well!

Am I missing something or a trick somewhere?



Replies (6)

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By mbuffery
20th Oct 2015 16:32

You are correct

The VAT exemption for education services is unusual in that it is dependent on the entity providing the service as well as the nature of the service provided.  In this case, the only way in which the coaching services can be exempt from VAT is if they are provided by a sole trader (or a partner of a partnership) trading on his own account to individuals.  That way they fall within the exemption for private tuition.  Of course, as a sole trader, he can provide taxable services to the school and exempt services to individuals (the parents)  but remain below the threshold if the taxable element is low enough. 

His competitors may also have a problem. 

Best of luck 

Mark Buffery


Thanks (1)
By KevinELane
20th Oct 2015 16:36


Thanks Mark, appreciate the confirmation.



Thanks (0)
By SE_Confused
21st Oct 2015 05:29

just had a similar situation, sole trader though... was told by taxwise advice they still fall under VAT unless they are a charity or community sports club!

I am aware of the exemption for tuition for non commercial businesses but are you sure it applies to sports too?

Thanks (0)
By spidersong
21st Oct 2015 09:11

Yes it applies to sport

If you want confirmation just look at the plethora of cases around registered golf professionals and who's supplying their education services, the club or the golfer ad the liabilities attendant to that.

And although often not worth the (non) paper they're written on here's what HMRC say in the Education notice 701/30:

"5.1 What does the term 'education' cover?

....recreational and sporting courses"

and as  better indicator the law (VAT Act 1994, Schedule 9, Group 6, Item 2) says:

"the supply of private tuition, in a subject ordinarily taught in a school or university, by an individual teacher acting independently of an employer" is exempt.

and you'd be hard pressed to find many sports that didn't have some representation within the British education system (especially if you live near Loughborough!).


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By SE_Confused
21st Oct 2015 12:22

that's right, thanks!

that's right, thanks!


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By Andp
21st Oct 2015 12:36

I recall a sole trade pro golfer instructor jumping with glee, when the rules were changed circa 2001 ?, up to the change he had charged ouput vat to his students for golf  lessons. The  rules changed and made his sports services exempt , which in turn led to a huge vat refund as the new rules were retrospective.

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