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UK distance learning is zero-rated for VAT

  • Nov 8, 2015 | Richard Asquith

UK distance learning is zero-rated for VAT

The UK’s First Tier Tribunal has found that the provision of distance learning courses is zero rated for VAT. This means providers may fully reclaim any VAT incurred whilst not charging VAT to their consumer customers.

The UK tax authorities, HMRC, contended that such services are standard rated educational services, and so should be liable to the UK VAT rate of 20%. However, the Tribunal held that learning materials send to home/office study students were a provision of printed materials, and therefore entitled to the nil rating. This was on the basis that the materials were central to the service, and not an incidental as in education provided in centers.


VP Global Indirect Tax
Richard Asquith
VP Global Indirect Tax Richard Asquith
Richard Asquith is VP Global Indirect Tax at Avalara, helping businesses understand their compliance obligations as they grow globally. He can be contacted at: richard.asquith@avalara.com. He is part of the European leadership team which won International Tax Review's 2019 Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard qualified as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.