In the recent UT case of VCS it was decided that input tax relating to outside the scope activities of the appellant was not recoverable.
VCS is a car park operator, which manages and operates car parking for its clients on private land. Inter alia, providing parking control services, including the issue of parking permits and enforcement action (solely at the discretion of VCS).
In practice, most of VCS’s revenue is derived not from providing parking permits, but from parking charge notices (“PCNs”) which it issues to motorists who are in breach of the rules for parking in the car parks. In the period considered, approximately 92% of VCS’s income came from PCNs, and just 8% from parking permits. In March 2013 the Court of Appeal (CoA) decided that the PCN revenue was not subject to VAT. This was because VAT is chargeable only in respect of revenue from the supply of goods or services. The CoA held that the PCN revenue was not earned in respect of supplies of services liable to VAT. Rather, the PCN revenue represented damages for breach of contracts between VCS and the motorists and/or damages for trespass by the motorists.
The UT agreed with the First-tier Tribunal’s decision that that VCS was not entitled to recover input tax that related to outside the scope (PCN) income and that it was reasonable to assume that since 92% of the income generated by VCS was outside the scope of VAT, only 8% of the input tax incurred on its costs should be deductible.
It is clear that there is a direct link between the general overheads of the business in respect of which VCS incurred input VAT and both VCS’s taxable supplies of parking permits and the PCN income. The appellant’s contention that a taxable person (such as VCS) is entitled to deduct all the input tax if the goods or services are used to any extent for the purposes of taxed transactions was doomed to failure and the chairman stated that “…we accept HMRC’s interpretation of Article 168 PVD. Accordingly, where purchased goods or services are used by a taxable person both for transactions in respect of which VAT is deductible (ie; taxable supplies) and for transactions in respect of which VAT is not deductible (ie; where the transactions do not constitute economic activity or do not constitute taxable supplies (even though they may be transactions undertaken in the course of a taxable person’s business) or where the supplies are exempt), VAT may only be deducted in so far as (that is, to the extent that) it is attributable to taxable supplies.”.
There are no surprises in this decision, but it serves as a timely reminder that not only is “VAT free” income not always a beneficial treatment, but any income that does not relate to a business’s’ taxable supplies can create costs and complexities, whether it be outside the scope, non-business, or exempt.
Outside the scope income can be received by any business in certain circumstances, and it must be recognised in its VAT reporting as this case demonstrates that not all input tax may be recovered and there is no de minimis for input tax attributed to outside the scope and non-business, it is simply not input tax.
Full case Vehicle Control Services Limited (VCS)