The basic idea behind Value Added Tax (VAT) is fairly straightforward – it’s a sales tax. 

But for voluntary organisations, it’s not always straightforward working out whether what you do counts as a ‘sale’ in VAT terms. There are also a lot of exemptions and special conditions for charities that mean not everything can be worked out, sometimes you just need to look up the rules. 

Then there are the practicalities of how you actually operate VAT processes.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have a very useful page on VAT and what it means for Charities. You can find the information here.

As VAT rules and processes can be complex, it is advisable that you consult with your Treasurer or your accountants on the matter before registering to claim back VAT.

You can also contact HMRC on the details below who have a VAT Helpline.

HMRC Contact Details

HM Revenue and Customs VAT Helpline:  0845 010 9000
Textphone for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impediment: 0845 000 0200

Open Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm

VAT website:

Prior to calling the helpline, you will need to have both your charity’s VAT registration number and postcode available. Should you not be VAT registered, then you will just need the postcode. It is recommended that groups first look on the HMRC website before calling. For people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, please contact using text phone: 0845 000 0200