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Tax – VAT

Building services – business?

Normally the supply of residential house building, and the supply of building materials, will be zero-rated. But, there is an exception allowing the recovery of the VAT for a person who lawfully builds residential housing, provided they do not carry out those works in the course of business.

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Lettings – service charges

Many Ls will have to alter the VAT basis on which they invoice for cleaning, and other service charges.

The ECJ has held that the letting of flats, and the cleaning of common parts, are separate supplies (even when both are supplied by L). In its view, cleaning services do not fall within the concept of the ‘letting of property’ and, since those activities can be separated from each other, they cannot be regarded as a single transaction. In essence, therefore, they must be regarded as mutually divisible operations – so the cleaning cannot be regarded as an exempt supply of letting.

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Solicitors – foreign clients

Do you need to charge VAT on your invoices to clients based outside the UK?

The answer is that you need to consider which jurisdiction your client belongs to and also, if they are in the EU, whether the client is acting in a non-business capacity:

if the client belongs outside the EU (including the UK and Isle of Man: you should not charge VAT;

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Lease – parking space

For VAT purposes, the supply of car parking facilities is usually standard-rated, whereas the grant by a developer of a lease of more than 21 years of a residential flat will be zero-rated. Accordingly, if a residential lease includes the demise of a car-parking space then the whole transaction will be zero-rated.

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VAT – shop and flat

What is the VAT situation when a freehold building is sold, comprising a retail ground floor, with a long-lease residential unit above?

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Credit note – terms of trade

It is important to have correctly worded contractual terms when goods are supplied, subject to a retention of the title clause. In particular, there must be a clear entitlement to issue credit notes for VAT purposes if goods are repossessed. Failure to have such a clause can result in VAT being irrecoverable.

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Three-year cap – not pre-1997!

A three-year time limit on claims for deducting VAT input tax was introduced as from 1 May 1997. But, the HL has now held that these provisions were introduced without the required ‘reasonable transitional period’.

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Option to tax – new Sched 10

Important changes to the VAT option to tax on supplies of land come into effect on 1 June. Sched 10 (which details the option to tax) is being revised. Although much of the substance remains unchanged, there are important new provisions:

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Refunds – assignable

The CA has held that VAT refunds are assignable debts. A VAT refund from HMRC is a ‘chose in action’ that can therefore be assigned by the taxpayer (even though the legislation says the refund shall be made to the taxpayer).

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Option to tax – buildings or land?

Under the new option to tax regime (in force since 1 June) extra care is needed when describing what is covered by an option (ie building or land). The point to appreciate is that it is possible to regard an option to tax made on a building as ceasing to apply to the underlying land when the building is demolished.

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