2. Status and Responsibilities

See also:

2.1 Status of the University of Oxford

(a) Legal status

The legal status of the University is that of a civil corporation established under common law and formally incorporated by statute in the 1571 Act for the Incorporation of Both Universities.

It is this Act that provides the legal name of the University as “the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford”.

More information is provided in the preface to University Statutes.

Any queries on legal status or what falls within the legal entity of the University should be directed in the first instance to the University's Legal Services Office.

(b) Charitable status

The University is an exempt charity under schedule 2 of the Charities Act 1993. This means that it enjoys all related tax exemptions (primarily from payment of Corporation Tax) but it is also exempt from certain requirements, such as the need to register with the Charity Commission. This exempt status is preserved under the Charities Act 2006.

Any queries on charitable status or whether an activity falls within the University's charitable objectives should be directed in the first instance to the University's Legal Services Office.

(c) Tax status

The University has charitable tax exemption for income applied to its primary purposes that include, amongst others, the provision of education and dissemination of learning.

Note: Charitable status does not exempt the University from paying tax.

As an employer and service provider, the University has clear tax responsibilities, broadly categorized as:


Payments to IndividualsPayments to suppliers or other corporate bodiesPayments or donations from any source 
  • Income tax
  • National Insurance
  • VAT
  • VAT
  • Corporation Tax

The University's policies on payments are prepared in the light of governing UK tax legislation.

The University is exempt from Corporation Tax on its primary charitable objectives, but is still required to complete annual Corporation Tax returns. It also has obligations to file tax returns in overseas territories where it has interests or activities.

The rules relating to payments to staff incorporate the University's P11D reporting obligations from HM Revenue and Customs for reporting all expense payments.

Depending upon the tax concerned and the nature of the enquiry, the University has a number of different tax registration numbers with HMRC. If you need to obtain a number then please contact the Tax Team.

(d) Oxford University Press

The Oxford University Press (OUP) is a department of the University of Oxford and as such has the same legal, charitable and tax status as the rest of the University. Except where different registrations apply (e.g. for different payrolls), OUP is incorporated into the University's tax returns.

Supplies and services made between University departments and OUP should be treated as internal transactions for VAT and sales purposes even where invoices are raised.