29 November 2018
Wellcome Trust Limited (WTL) makes payments to non-EU overseas investment managers relating to the management of WTL’s investment portfolio. In a previous ECJ case it had been confirmed that the management of charitable investments by WTL i.e. the buying and selling of shares, was a non-business activity. It follows that WTL is not entitled to deduct any VAT it may incur on management of those investments. Where such fees are charged by a UK investment manager (the place of supply thus being the UK) WTL could not deduct VAT.
However, where services are received from outside the EU, the question arises as to whether the place of supply is outside the UK (in which case no VAT applies) or is within the UK under the reverse charge rules, such that WTL must account for UK VAT on the value of the services to HMRC. Article 43 of the Principal VAT Directive states that ‘a taxable person who also carries out activities or transactions that are not considered to be taxable supplies of goods or services shall be regarded as a taxable person in respect of all services rendered to him’. Article 44 then treats the supply of services made to a taxable person ‘acting as such ’as being made where the taxable person receiving the service belongs. Article 45 provides that services supplied to any person acting in a private capacity are made where the supplier belongs.
Since 1st January 2010, WTL had been accounting for output tax in the UK in respect of investment management services it purchased from non-EU suppliers. It claimed repayment of that VAT, amounting to c£13m, and HMRC refused the claim.