Are membership schemes VATable?

Where charities have members who have voting or other constitutional rights then a special VAT concession applies (‘ESC 3.35’). This allows the membership subscription to be apportioned between the benefits provided so, for example, printed or digital publications are a zero-rated benefit.

HMRC accept that if all the substantive benefits are available to non-members at no charge or more cheaply than the subscription or if some or all of the substantive benefits are exclusive to members and you are able to demonstrate that the amount paid is higher than the amount that the subscriber would normally have to pay for similar goods or services, any excess can be treated as an outside the scope of VAT donation.

There is also a VAT exemption for subscriptions to certain public interest bodies such as professional bodies, learned societies and philanthropic organisations.

Want to discuss further?

Ross Palmer

Senior Tax Manager

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