The provision of parking facilities is a VAT-taxed service to which the general rate applies. Several operators of parks, zoos and cultural institutions, whose tickets are subject to the reduced rate (6% VAT at the time, 9% currently), have unsuccessfully taken the view that the provision of parking facilities should be considered an additional transaction in the granting of access and should therefore also be taxed at the reduced VAT rate. Below are two cases.

I Hoge Veluwe National Park

Question of law and importance

The administrator of Hoge Veluwe National Park also believed that he could apply the reduced rate to the provision of parking facilities. A limited part of the park is accessible for cars. Visitors who wish to enter the park by car pay a fee per car in addition to the entrance fee. Visitors who come to the park by car, but do not want to enter the park by car, can park in a designated area at each of the three entrances for a separate fee. The car parks are located outside the fences of the park.

Assessment by the Supreme Court

According to the Supreme Court, the basic principle is that if an entrepreneur performs several services, each of those services must be regarded as separate and independent for the purposes of the levy of VAT. However, an exception applies if one or more elements of an activity constitute the principal service, while other elements must be considered one or more ancillary services that share the tax treatment of the principal service. In particular, a service should be regarded as ancillary to the principal service if, for customers, it is not an end in itself but a means of making optimum use of the principal service provided. According to the Supreme Court, the basic principle is that the use of parking facilities for a car at a destination is fundamentally an end in itself for a motorist. The Supreme Court confirmed the judgment of the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court that the reduced rate does not apply.

II Indoor parking at a museum subject to 21% VAT

Question of law and importance

The District Court of The Hague had to rule on the applicable rate for parking in a museum's indoor car park. Visitors to the museum who come by car can park their car in the car park under the museum or in the car park near the museum. The car park is closed off by a barrier and exit tickets can only be purchased at the museum reception desk. In support of its position, the museum argued that the municipality obliged the museum to provide parking facilities and that, as a result, an indoor parking garage was built with a limited size and number of parking spaces.

Assessment by the District Court

According to the District Court, however, the circumstances referred to do not affect the nature of the service: the provision of parking facilities. This service is subject to the general VAT rate.

Practical implications

The above-mentioned decisions are a confirmation of earlier case law that parking is in principle an independent service that is taxed at the general rate (21%). The question that arises after these matters is whether the letting of parking spaces to lessees of commercial property is also independent. For the time being, we assume that the letting of parking spaces to lessees follows the VAT qualification of the rent, i.e., is exempt from VAT if the letting is exempt, and subject to VAT if parties have rightly opted for letting subject to VAT.