The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there has been no change in the position in relation to the VAT treatment of cookery schools between 2016 and 2019.
Where a cookery school is providing courses for educational or vocational purposes, any such course is exempt from VAT provided the lessons in question are provided as part of a programme that meets the standards set out by the Department of Education and Skills syllabus or, in the case of vocational training, the course is aimed at acquiring or updating knowledge in relation to a specific profession or trade.
This means cookery classes aimed at further enhancing the skills of professional chefs working in the hospitality industry are exempt from VAT. Similarly, cookery courses aimed towards developing the culinary skills of trainee chefs are also exempt from VAT. However, where a cookery school is providing courses primarily for recreational purposes the position continues to be that these courses are liable to VAT at the standard rate. A course which is primarily for recreational purposes is undertaken for the enjoyment and satisfaction of the participants rather than for developing skills and knowledge which will assist the participant in their trade or profession.
If a cookery school has any doubt as to the eligibility for exemption of any of its courses, they should contact Revenue for advice.