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Chess competition under threat after tax hike

October 4, 2016 4:12 PM

A popular national chess competition is at risk of disappearing following a recent tax hike by the government. South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has urged the Chancellor to exempt it from VAT so that local students can continue to participate.

The UK Chess Challenge has run for over 20 years, and introduced over half a million children to the game of chess. However, the competition is now under threat because of a recent change to its tax status which has left the competition's founder with a £300,000 tax bill.

A change in the law last January meant that "mind-sports" were not eligible for tax breaks, although other not-for-profit sports organisations are. HMRC is therefore insisting that VAT must be levied on entry fees. Entry into the UK Chess Challenge costs schools £40 for 30 pupils and £15 for every 15 players after that.

Tim said: "I am urging the government to reconsider the decision to slap a hefty tax hike on this student chess competition. This is a tax on a student competition, and even if it doesn't sink the whole event it will price out the poorest students. The competition is a great chance for young people to challenge themselves against students from across the country. Head teachers in our area are concerned that this opportunity will disappear for local students. The government must adopt a common sense approach and exempt it from VAT charges."