In New Deer Community Association v HMRC  UKUT 604, the Upper Tribunal (UT) agreed that a building consisting mainly of changing rooms and showers was not used as a ‘village hall or similarly’.
The building was primarily a sports pavilion, consisting of a large entrance area, changing facilities and showers. There was also a small meeting room and kitchen making up less than 5% of the total area.
The association zero-rated the construction of the building in accordance with VATA 1994 Schedule 8 Group 5 note 6, which requires it to be used as a 'village hall or similarly'. HMRC disagreed.
The First Tier Tribunal (FTT) held that the building was not used in a way that was similar to the use of a village hall on the grounds that:
- There was no multipurpose hall capable of being used for various activities
- The large entrance area could not be used as a space similar to a village hall
- The changing rooms had open showers and were not conducive to other uses
The FTT did allow the meeting room/kitchen area to be zero-rated.
The association appealed to the UT saying that the FTT had restricted the scope of the legislation by requiring a multipurpose hall. They also argued that the use of the changing rooms constituted a recreational purpose as it enabled the use of the sports pitch.
The UT refused the appeal agreeing that the FTT was correct to
- Focus on the potential uses of the building itself rather than on its facilitation of the use of the sports pitch.
- Focus on the design of the building in terms of indicating what its practical uses were.
- Find that a building used to provide changing rooms and storage for sports equipment was not used as a village hall or similarly.
The UT disagreed that a multipurpose hall was a necessary feature, but did not consider this to have been critical to the FTT’s conclusion.
There have been a number of recent FTT cases involving buildings used as ‘village halls or similarly'. Another UT decision, Caithness Rugby Football Club in which the FTT and UT decided that a clubhouse did qualify for zero rating.
The UT referred to that case in this decision, contrasting it on the grounds that the clubhouse itself was widely used by the local community for social and recreational events whereas this pavilion was not.
FTT case reference: New Deer Community Association v HMRC  UKFTT TC04124
UT case reference: New Deer Community Association v HMRC  UKUT 604 (TCC)