United Kingdom: Mountain Rescue Teams Petition For VAT Exemption
30 August 2013
Posted by: Author: Jason Gorringe
Author: Jason Gorringe
A new petition has been launched in an attempt to secure a value-added tax (VAT) exemption for mountain rescue teams in the United Kingdom. The petition follows on from successful lobbying earlier in July this year to secure a VAT exemption for air ambulances against VAT paid on aviation fuel.
The petition, posted on the UK Government's DirectGov site, asks parliament to consider reimbursing the VAT paid on mountain rescue teams' gear, to bring these entities' treatment in line with that in place for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, as an exempt entity. Presently, these teams are unable to claim input tax credits against their gear as they do not make taxable supplies.
In July, a petition to allow an exemption for air ambulances from value-added tax on fuel purchases was successful, garnering in excess of 100,000 signatories, enough to trigger parliamentary debate on the matter. Lobbying highlighted that whilst the Lifeboat Service has been exempt from VAT on fuel costs since 1977, a similar privilege has not been afforded to the Air Ambulance Service, which had been required to pay VAT at five percent.
In its response to that petition, the UK Government pointed out: "Charities are at the heart of the Government’s ambition to build the Big Society. To help support this, the Government provides charities with over GBP3bn (USD4.65bn) a year in tax reliefs, which includes around GBP200 million in reliefs from VAT. Furthermore, as part of the wide range of VAT and other tax reliefs available to charities, voluntary search and rescue charities can purchase medicines, medical equipment and certain other specialized equipment VAT free. All of these reliefs are derogations from the normal EU VAT rules and are not enjoyed by charities in other Member States."
Lobbying for the cause back in December 2010, the Scottish National Party cited estimates that VAT on gear presently costs mountain rescue teams between GBP150m and GBP200m per year.