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HMRC: Business And Non-Business Activities For VAT Purposes

A new two-stage test ...

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Posted by Roger Eddowes on 04/07/2022 @ 8:00AM

HMRC has published a new policy paper, explaining how it determines if an activity is classed as 'business' for VAT purposes. Revenue and Customs Brief 10 (2022) makes for an interesting read ...

The 'business test' criteria that we've all used for years can no longer be relied on according to HMRC!

The 'business test' criteria that we've all used for years can no longer be relied on according to HMRC!

copyright: sifotography / 123rf

HMRC has changed long-standing policies following a number of recent test cases. These changes are relevant for charities, non-profits, nursery or creche facilities, businesses that receive grants and subsidies, and those organisations carrying out non-business activities.

"Previously, a 'business activity' was possible, even in
the absence of a profit motive!"

But HMRC no longer applies this business test when determining whether an activity would be classed as a business activity. In future, a new two-stage test should be considered when determining if an activity is, in fact, a business activity.

  • Stage 1 - A supply of goods or services for consideration

    There must be a legal relationship between the supplier and recipient. Is the supply made for a consideration? If not then the activity can not be classed as a business activity for VAT purposes.

  • Stage 2 - The supply is made for the purpose of remuneration

    If you receive a payment for the supply of goods or services, then the activity is regarded as economic and would be a business activity. However, the activity must be for the purpose of obtaining income, even if you charge the recipient below cost.

The 'business test' criteria that we've all used for years can no longer be relied on according to HMRC, so this new two-stage test should be used instead.

Until next time ...

Business Godparent


Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about HMRC's new two-stage test, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 01908 774320 and let's see how I can help.

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About Roger Eddowes ...


Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.

Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.