In Snow Factor Limited v HMRC [2020] UKUT 0025 (TCC), the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that the sale of lift tickets at an indoor ski and snowboard centre attracts a reduced rate of VAT.

  • Snow Factor ran an indoor ski facility in Glasgow. It sold lift passes to customers which enabled them to reach the top of the indoor slopes so they can ski down.
  • Snow Factor allowed free use of its slopes. A very small percentage of its users accessed the top of the slope by walking and without paying for lift passes.
  • Snow Factor accounted for VAT at 5% applying the basis that a reduced rate of VAT exists for the supply of a journey in a cable-suspended passenger transport system. It argued that it was not supplying a right of admission and just supplied lift passes.
  • HMRC disagreed on the basis that the reduced rate excludes transport within a place of entertainment when it is provided by the person who supplies the right of admission. In addition, the use of the ski lifts was not an end in itself but a means of accessing admission or a right to use the skiing facilities hence should be standard rated.
  • Snow Factor appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).

The FTT found that the supply of ski passes at an indoor ski facility was not a supply of transport and concluded that Snow Factor supplied a right of admission in the sense that lift passes controlled access to the slope.

Snow Factor appealed to the UT.

The question the UT tried to address was “Why does a customer purchase a lift pass?”.  The UP concluded that the correct answer is that, “...the customer wishes access to the slope in order to ski or snowboard down but without the effort and inconvenience of walking up”.

The UT found that the sale of lift tickets attracts the reduced rate of VAT under Schedule 7A, Group 13 and was no supply in the right to admission to the snow dome as there was no consideration, some people walked up the slope without paying the lift passes.

The appeal was allowed.

Links to our useful subscriber guides

Sport and physical recreation
When does the VAT exemption apply to sport? What is an eligible body for the VAT exemption? What is a sport?

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Snow Factor Limited v HMRC [2020] UKUT 0025 (TCC)