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The Open University: what is education?

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The Court of Appeal found for the taxpayer in HMRC v The Open University [2016] EWCA Civ 114, confirming that services supplied by the BBC to The Open University were exempt from VAT under Sixth VAT Directive article 13A(1)(i) (now Principal VAT Directive article 132(1)(i)). Questions remain, however, over the meaning of education within the education exemption, with different views being expressed in the Court of Appeal over whether there had to be, by means of an organisational structure, something underpinning the transfer of knowledge and skill.  Moving forward, this question will have to be resolved, particularly in the context of distance learning.

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