Freemasonry, charitable aims and religion: an update

The Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) has dismissed the United Grand Lodge’s appeal against imposing VAT on its membership subscriptions.

Background: the proceedings before the First-tier Tribunal Tax Chamber

The United Grand Lodge of England is an unincorporated association of what might be termed “traditional” Freemasons. In United Grand Lodge of England v Revenue & Customs [2014] UKFTT 164 (TC) it appealed against HMRC’s decision of 6 April 2010 that its supplies to its members in return for their subscriptions were not exempt from VAT. The dispute related to output tax accounted for since 1977 [98].

Article 132(1) of the Principal VAT Directive 2006/112 on the common system of value added tax (which replaced Article 13A(1) of the Sixth VAT Directive 77/388/EEC) requires member states to exempt, inter alia:

“… the supply of services, and the supply of goods closely linked thereto, to their members in their common interest in return for a subscription fixed in accordance with their rules by non-profit making organisations with aims of a political, trade union, religious, patriotic, philosophical, philanthropic or civic nature provided such exemption is not likely to cause distortion of competition.” Continue reading