Orchestra loses VAT appeal


Cultural charities suffered a heavy blow today when the the Bournemouth
Symphony Orchestra (BSO) lost its appeal to make admission income exempt from

The long-running court battle came to a head today when three judges ruled
that because the orchestra paid managing director Michael Henson a salary it had
to pay VAT on admission revenue.

An organisation needed to be ‘essentially voluntary’ if its admission income
was to be made VAT exempt, and because Henson was a paid executive the BSO would
have to pay the VAT.

The BSO case was the latest in a series of challenges to HMRC by various
cultural charities, including the London Zoo and the Longborough Festival Opera.

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