For VAT purposes, student clubs and societies are considered as individual entities; they are not part of or covered by the University’s VAT registration. Each club or society is thus treated as a separate business.
What this means is that, provided a Club’s total income for all sources does not exceed the VAT registration threshold (£85,000 p.a. in 2019/2020), the Club does not need to register for VAT with H.M. Revenue & Customs. This in turn means that the Club does not need to charge or account for VAT, e.g. on its subscriptions to members, on sales of tickets for dinners/entertainments, sales of advertising space in term-cards, sales of tee-shirts and mementoes, etc.
However, suppliers to Clubs of goods and services will charge VAT according to the normal rules, and Clubs not registered for VAT will need to absorb this VAT as part of the costs of the goods/services purchased. Although student clubs and societies share the charitable status of the University, this does not mean that clubs and societies can thereby avoid VAT on their purchases and expenses, e.g. payments to caterers. There is no general exemption from VAT for charities.
Any Club not registered for VAT which has an annual turnover nearing or exceeding the VAT registration threshold can obtain advice about VAT from the Clubs Officer. The matter of registration for VAT should be dealt with in timely fashion; HM Revenue and Customs impose financial penalties for late registration.