This is not a VAT case, but highlights the difficulties in establishing the essential VAT question of who is supplying what to who.
Uber works on the basis that the punter engages the driver and that it is the driver making the supply to the punter. Uber takes its payment for enabling the two parties to contact each other.
For many years HMRC have disputed that arrangement and seen the supply of the transport being made by Uber. Rumours that (astonishingly) large VAT assessments have been “lodged” against Uber to enable HMRC to navigate around the time caps have been confirmed by entries in Uber’s accounts.
This case revolved around the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, which determines who may operate such vehicles and how the contractual position lies. The court took the view that for Uber to provide such a service the contract must be between Uber and the passenger. The VAT ramification is that this is seen as confirmation of HMRC’s view and we await to see how they will now progress the matter.
It also shows that where there are three or more parties involved that it can be very complex in establishing just what is being supplied by who.
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