VAT on pitches at antiques fairs

One of my contacts at an antiques fair said he’d heard our pitch fees might increase because of a VAT change. Is that true?

1st October 2014

Possibly! Pitch fees have typically been treated as a supply of land and therefore exempt from VAT (unless the landlord had opted to tax the property).

However, HMRC undertook a VAT inspection at one of the biggest organisers of Antiques fairs last year. Subsequently there have been discussions at EU-level and HMRC are now of the opinion that VAT should be charged on pitch fees, because they do not represent a supply of land alone.

There are normally ancillary services such as promotion of the fair, power, security etc. and because these cannot be separately identified and they are significant, under this shift of opinion the whole pitch fee would be subject to the standard rate of VAT.

The fair organiser is appealing and they do stand a chance of winning. But in the meantime, you may well see a rise in pitch fees as organisers will be wary that they could end up with big VAT bills if HMRC win.

It could also have wider consequences for car boot sales, serviced offices and market stalls.

By Jo Nockels

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