MARCH 2024

With a General Election due in the coming months, the Labour Party’s plans to add VAT to independent school fees has taken on even greater salience. The question of how much money this headline change would raise remains a source of heated debate. Last year, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that adding VAT to fees would bring in £1.3-1.5 billion a year for a future government, although this is much higher than other estimates.

Leaving aside the issue of potential revenue gains or losses for the government, this research paper from EDSK focuses on the issues that could complicate efforts to add VAT onto independent school fees – more often than not due to the sheer complexity and intricacies of the legislation that underpins the operation of VAT in this country. Although it is not possible to offer precise figures for how these complications may affect a future government’s finances, this paper outlines several reasons why attempting to add VAT to school fees could present significant legal and political challenges for any government that chooses to move ahead with this policy.