In Premier Family Martial Arts LLP v HMRC [2020] UKFTT TC07509, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) found that kickboxing is not an activity which is commonly taught at schools or universities and does not qualify for an exemption.

  • Premier Family Martial Arts provides kickboxing tuition.
  • In April 2017, the HMRC began a VAT inquiry into the business. HMRC claimed that the supplies for the kickboxing classes were not exempt but taxed at a standard rate of 20%. This made the company liable for a VAT bill of £411,497.
  • The company argued that the supplies of private tuition, ordinarily taught in a school or university by an individual teacher acting independently of an employer, are VAT exempt.
  • The company requested a statutory review of HMRC’s decision and then entered into the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.
  • Following the ADR, the original VAT output tax assessment was cancelled and the date of registration for VAT purposes was amended to 1 April 2018.
  • The company appealed to the FTT.

The First Tier Tribunal found that ‘Kickboxing is not an activity which is commonly taught at schools or universities in the European Union’.

In conclusion, the judge added, “...kickboxing has no single governing body and correspondingly, that there is no extremely set syllabus and no extremely moderated grading system. The subjective nature of the grading system in certain martial arts was a factor in the Department of Education’s decision to exclude those martial arts from the UK’s national curriculum”. The FTT dismissed the appeal.

Links to our guides and cases

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?

Mr Remi Ashton v HMRC [2016] UKFTT TC05456
The FTT considered whether an individual was a partner, self-employed, or an employee in a Martial Arts Instruction business.

HMRC v Greenisland Football Club [2018] UKUT 0440
The Upper Tribunal (UT) overturned the First Tier Tribunal's (FTT) decision to allow a club to zero-rate construction of a clubhouse.

External links

Premier Family Martial Arts LLP v HMRC [2020] UKFTT TC07509