HMRC have recently won the case of HMRC vs Colaingrove in the Court of Appeal. Colaingrove operates various holiday parks across the UK including Haven. It offers cut-price holidays in static caravans or chalets to the readers of The Sun newspaper. One of the features of the offer is that the customers must pay a separate charge for the electricity that will be supplied to the caravan or chalet. As it was not practical to engage in meter reading for each holidaymaker, a set charge of £12 per day is payable at least 56 days in advance of the commencement of the holiday.
Fuel for domestic use is charged to VAT at the reduced rate of 5%. Hence it is accepted that metered electricity supplied at pitch-sites to those who own their own caravans was liable to VAT at the reduced rate.
Colaingrove argued that the supply of the accommodation in The Sun holiday offer was separate to that of the electricity and that the later was, therefore, subject to VAT at 5% and not the standard rate of 20% which applied to the caravan/chalet accommodation. HMRC accepted that if the supply of electricity was done on a metered basis it would constitute a separate element of the supply and would also be liable at the reduced rate. However, because a flat-fee was payable which did not relate to the amount of power consumed by any particular customer the supply was a composite supply liable to VAT at the standard rate applicable to the supply of the holiday accommodation.
The Court decided in favour of HMRC saying that The Sun holidaymaker purchased a package of goods and services and paid a standard rate where fuel was not optional. The charge made for electricity provided in Colaingrove’s holiday accommodation could not be split out from the provision of that holiday accommodation and was therefore liable to VAT at the standard rate. The supply of holiday accommodation is a different transaction from the supply of fuel to the owner of a caravan parked on a pitch owned by the appellant.
As is always the case with VAT, it is very important to look carefully at what you are actually supplying and in particular are you making a composite supply or separate single supplies. The VAT issues with regard to caravans are complex and ever shifting.
Please contact Saints Tourism & Leisure on 01228 534371 if you need further advice.