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Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS)

  • HMRC
  • Updated
  • Free To Access

Added to website 09/03/2017. Updated 08/07/2024.

Guidance on VAT as it applies to local authorities and other government and public bodies.

The Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) enables young musicians receiving musical tuition as part of state education to purchase musical instruments without the cost of VAT.


To be eligible, the musical tuition must be provided as part of state education. For the purposes of the AIPS, ‘state education’ can include the following:

  • Musical tuition provided by a local authority school or academy trust
  • Musical tuition provided by a local authority through its music service

Musical tuition can include individual lessons and playing in a school or local authority ensemble.

The instrument must be suitable for the young musician’s needs and be used as part of their musical tuition. The instrument must be purchased from the supplier and then sold to the young musician at or below the cost excluding VAT.

Replacement parts for musical instruments can be purchased as part of the AIPS.

Local authority schools, local authority music services and academy trusts can offer the AIPS but are not obliged to. Music services that are not part of the local authority (e.g. charitable trusts) cannot offer the AIPS.

It is not possible to combine buying an instrument through the AIPS with the Take It Away scheme.

Record Keeping

Records must be kept of the following information about the transaction:

  • child’s name
  • instrument
  • reason for eligibility
  • purchase price excluding VAT
  • supplier
  • price charged to the young musician

A letter or email from the parent, a response from the school and the supplier’s invoice will provide evidence for the above.

Next Step

Further details are included in section VATGPB7825 of the HMRC VAT manual.

Some retailers offer their own advice.

About the Provider


HMRC is the UK's tax, payments and customs authority.