Tag Archives: vat-claim

VAT: Don’t forget to make EC 13th Directive claims

By   November 6, 2017

The deadline for a business to make a 13th Directive claim is fast approaching – don’t miss out!

What is a 13th Directive claim?

A non-EU based business may make a claim for recovery of VAT incurred in the UK. Typically, these are costs such as; employee travel and subsistence, service charges, exhibition costs, imports of goods, training, purchases of goods in the UK, and clinical trials etc.

Who can claim?

The scheme is available for any businesses that are not VAT registered anywhere in the EU, have no place of business or other residence in the EU and do not make any supplies in the UK.

What cannot be claimed?

The usual rules that apply to UK business claiming input tax also apply to 13th Directive claims. Consequently, the likes of; business entertainment, car purchase, non-business use and supplies used for exempt activities are usually barred.


The business must obtain a “certificate of business status” from its local tax or government department to accompany a claim. Claims must via hard copy submission to HMRC as online filing is not yet available. The application form is a VAT65A and is available here  Original invoices which show the VAT charged must be submitted with the claim form and business certificate. Applications without a certificate, or certificates and claim forms received after the deadline are not accepted by HMRC. It is possible for a business to appoint an agent to register to enable them to make refund applications on behalf of that business.


Claim periods run annually up to 30 June and must be submitted by 31 December of the same year. Consequently, any UK VAT incurred in the twelve months to 30 June 2017 must be submitted by 31 December 2017.

With the usual Christmas rush and distractions it may be easy to overlook this deadline and some claims may be significant. Unfortunately, this is not a rapid process and even if claims are accurate and the supporting documents are in all in order the claim often takes some time to be repaid.


Please note; there is a similar scheme for businesses incurring VAT in the UK which are based in other EU Member States. However, the process and deadlines are different. Additionally, if you are a UK business incurring VAT (or its equivalent) overseas, there are mechanisms for its recovery. Please contact us if you would like further information.



VAT Latest from the courts – White Goods claims by housebuilders

By   February 27, 2017

house-under-construction (2)Recovery of input tax on goods included in the sale of a new house.

The recent Upper Tribunal (UT) case of Taylor Wimpey plc considered whether builders of new dwellings are able to recover input tax incurred on certain expenditure on goods supplied with the sale of a new house. We are aware that there are many cases stood behind this hearing and it is understood that the appellant’s claim amounts to circa £60 million alone. Unfortunately, the UT ruled against the appellant.

The rules

Before considering the impact of the case, I thought it worthwhile to look at the rules on this matter.

There is in place a Blocking Order (“Builders’ Block”) which prohibits recovery of input tax on goods which are not “building materials”. In most cases it is simple to determine what building materials are; bricks, mortar, timber etc, but the difficulty comes with items such as white goods (ovens, hobs, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators etc) carpets, and similar.  So what are the rules?

These are set out in HMRC’s VAT Notice 708 para 13.2

There are five criteria:

  • The articles are incorporated into the buildings (or its site)
  • the articles are “ordinarily” incorporated by builders into that type of building
  • other than kitchen furniture, the articles are not finished or prefabricated furniture, or materials for the construction of fitted furniture
  • with certain exceptions, the articles are not gas or electrical appliances
  • the articles are not carpets or carpeting material

To qualify as building materials, goods have to meet all of these criteria

Examples of specific goods are given at VAT Notice 708 para 13.8 

The case

Generally, Taylor Wimpey’s argument was that under the VAT law in force at the time of the claim it was entitled to recover the VAT paid on these items and the Builders’ Block did not prevent it from recovering input tax on these goods. The VAT was properly recoverable as it was attributable to the zero rated sale of the house when complete. Taylor Wimpey further contended that if the Builder’s Block did apply, it was unlawful under EU law and should therefore be disapplied.  Additionally, there was a challenge on the meaning of “incorporates … in any part of the building or its site” and the meaning of “ordinarily installed by builders as fixtures”.

The Builders’ Block which prevents housebuilders from reclaiming VAT on such goods was challenged on the basis that the UK was not allowed to extend input tax blocks, as it had done in 1984 (white goods) and 1987 (carpets).

The decision

The UT ruled that the block could be extended in relation to supplies which were zero-rated and that the block properly applied to most of appellants’ claim.  The UT held that only goods “ordinarily installed” in a house were excepted from the block, but that exception does not cover white goods and fitted carpets supplied since the appropriate rule changes.


This ruling was not really a surprise and, unless Taylor Wimpey pursues this further it provides clarity.  It demonstrates that technology and the requirements of a modern house purchaser have moved on significantly since the 1970s and 1980s.  I doubt many houses built in the 1970s had dishwashers or extractor hoods.  The ruling does bear reading from a technical viewpoint as my summary does not go into the full reasons for the decision.  If you, or your client have a claim stood behind this case it is obviously not good news as claims for white goods are extremely limited.  If you have mistakenly claimed for white or similar goods, it would be prudent to review the position in light of this case.  The decision also affects claims via the DIY Housebuilder’s Scheme.  Details of this scheme here


VAT Latest from the courts – more on composite or separate supplies

By   August 1, 2016

op1 (2)The case of: General Healthcare Group Limited (GHG)

Those that have read my articles in the past will recognise the topic of composite or separate supplies rears its ugly head on many occasions. It is a matter that has occupied businesses, advisers and HMRC since VAT’s inception, and shows no signs of disappearing any time soon.  To put it into the Tribunal chairman’s words:  This is another appeal on the subject of whether a transaction which comprises several different elements should be regarded as a single supply or several distinct and independent supplies.

In the latest episode, a ruling was handed down by the Upper Tribunal (UTT) in the case of GHG.


GHG challenged the decision in the First tier Tribunal (FTT) that it made a single supply of prostheses and operating services via its consultants. Consultants fit prostheses in certain procedures, eg; hip replacements when they operate in GHG hospitals. The prostheses are supplied by GHG which also provide the hospital facilities to enable the independent, self-employed consultants to supply healthcare which includes the fitting of prostheses, to its patients. The FTT (in the lead case of Nuffield Hospital with GHG) decided that there was a single supply of exempt healthcare to the patient in these circumstances. GHG appealed against this decision, contending that there is one supply of exempt healthcare, and a separate zero rated supply of the prosthetics prescribed and fitted by the consultants who performed the operations.

VAT Impact

Treating the prosthetics as zero rated rather than exempt would have no impact on output tax (no VAT would be due in either analysis) but zero rating would enable GHG to recover input tax on the prosthetics in question and an increased amount of VAT incurred on general overheads. It is likely that such a claim, across the board would run into many multi-millions.


The UT dismissed GHG’s appeal, stating that “… from the point of view of the typical patient who requires a prosthesis, GHG makes a single supply of hospital and medical care which includes providing the prosthesis to be fitted by the consultant …”.


The decision appears logical and in line with both EC and UK legislation and past case law and was not really a surprise. In these type of cases it is important to consider what the recipient of the supply thinks (s)he is receiving.  In this case, and having been on the receiving end of a similar procedure (although I hope that I am a few years off a hip replacement) I think it is absolutely accurate to say that the patient would consider that (s)he is receiving a single supply of medical care.  However, I have no doubt that the patient who has just received a new hip would be very unlikely to be thinking of the VAT treatment of their….errr treatment in the slightest…..

The UTT chairman stated that it declined to make any reference to the CJEU.

As always, this is a tricky area, if you have received any questionable rulings from HMRC on single/multiple supplies, or wonder whether there is a different way of analysing your supplies, please contact us as explained above, the matter continues to throw up interesting results.

Full case here 

VAT – Latest from the courts: Royal Mail claims (Zipvit)

By   July 4, 2016

post (2)The Upper Tribunal (UTT) decided that VAT incurred on the receipt of certain postal services is not recoverable.

 Brief background

It is estimated that businesses could have recovered more than £220 million of credit for input tax on RM’s postal services had the decision gone in their favour.

It has previously been decided that certain supplies made by Royal Mail (RM), including Parcelforce, to its customers were taxable. This was on the basis of the TNT CJEU case. RM had treated them as exempt. HMRC was out of time to collect output tax, but claims made by recipients of RM’s services were able to make retrospective claims. These claims were predicated on the basis that the amount paid to RM included VAT at the appropriate rate (it was embedded in the charge) and that UK VAT legislation stipulates that the “taxable amount” for any supply, is the amount paid by the customer including any VAT included in the price.


The UTT has agreed with the verdict in the FTT hearing that the appellant: Zipvit Limited (along with many other taxpayers) was unable to recover input tax claimed to be embedded the value of the supply by RM.  Regardless of the arguments on the embedded input tax point (and interesting comments on the absence of a correspondingly equal amount declared as output tax by RM) the UTT agreed with the overall finding by the FTT.  Although a This is a highly technical issue, the deciding point was the simple fact that as the claimant did not have valid tax invoices to support the claim it was invalid.  Additionally, it was decided that although HMRC may consider alternative evidence, in these circumstances they were not obliged to accept other documentation and that Zipvit’s claim therefore failed.


We are aware of many appeals being stood behind Zipvit. This case clearly is unhelpful for claims, but it may not be the end of the process.  We will advise on any further progress of the appeal when that information is available.

Please contact us if you have any queries on this case.

Full case here Zipvit Limited

VAT – Building your new home. Claiming VAT on costs

By   December 14, 2015

Building your own home is becoming increasingly popular.  There are many things to think about, and budgeting is one of the most important. HouseBuilding_edited

The recovery of VAT on the project has a huge impact on the budget and care must be taken to ensure that a claim is made properly and within the time limits.  You don’t have to be VAT registered to make a claim, this is done via a mechanism known as The DIY Housebuilders’ Scheme.  It has specific rules which must be adhered to otherwise the claim will be rejected.

If you buy a new house from a property developer, you will not be charged VAT. This is because the sale of the house to you will be zero-rated. This allows the developer to reclaim the VAT paid on building materials from HMRC. However, if you build a house yourself, you will not be able to benefit from the zero-rating. The DIY Housebuilder’ Scheme puts you in a similar position to a person who buys a zero-rated house built by a property developer.

Who can make a claim?

You can apply for a VAT refund on building materials and services if you are:

  • building a new home in which you will live
  • converting a building into a home
  • building a non-profit communal residence, eg; a hospice
  • building a property for a charity.


New homes

The house must:

  • be separate and self-contained (eg; not an extension)
  • be for you or your family to live or holiday in (not for sale when complete)
  • not be for business purposes (you can use one room as a work from home office)
  • not be prevented from sale independently to another building by planning permission or similar (eg; a granny annexe).

A claim may also be made for garages built at the same time as the house and to be used with the house.

Contractors working on new residential buildings should zero rate their supplies to you, so you won’t pay any VAT on these.


The building being converted must usually be a non-residential building (eg; a barn conversion). Residential also buildings qualify if they haven’t been lived in for at least 10 years.

You may claim a refund for builders’ work on a conversion of non-residential building into home. These supplies will be charged at the reduced rate of 5% for conversion works.  If the standard rate of 20% s charged incorrectly, you will not be able to claim the standard rated amount. Care should be taken that the contractor understands the VAT rules for conversions as these can be complex.

Communal and charity buildings

You may get a VAT refund if the building is for one of the following purposes:

  • non-business – you can’t charge a fee for the use of the building
  • charitable, eg; a hospice
  • residential, eg; a children’s home

What can you claim on?

Building materials

You may claim a VAT refund for building materials that are incorporated into the building and can’t be removed without tools or damaging the building.

What doesn’t qualify

You cannot claim for:

  • building projects outside the UK
  • materials or services that don’t have any VAT, eg;  were zero-rated or exempt
  • professional or supervisory fees, eg architects and surveyors
  • the hire of plant, tools and equipment, eg; generators, scaffolding and skips
  • building materials that aren’t permanently attached to or part of the building itself
  • some fitted furniture, electrical and gas appliances, carpets or garden ornaments
  • supplies for which you do not have a VAT invoice

Examples of items you can, and cannot claim for are listed below.

How to claim

To claim a VAT refund, send form 431NB or 431C to HMRC

Local Compliance National DIY Team
NE98 1ZZ

What you need to know

You must claim within 3 months of the building work being completed.

You will usually get the refund in 30 working days of sending the claim.

You must include the following with your claim:

  • bank details
  • planning permission
  • proof the building work is finished – eg a letter from your local authority
  • a full set of building plans
  • invoices – including tenders or estimations if the invoice isn’t itemised
  • bills and any credit notes

VAT invoices must be valid and show the correct rate of VAT or they will not be accepted in the claim.

HMRC usually examine every claim closely and often query them, so it pays to ensure that the claim is as accurate as possible first time.  We find a review by us before submission ensures the maximum amount is claimed and delays are avoided.

Payments made after completion of the house cannot be claimed, and only one claim can be made for the whole project, so cashflow may be an issue.

Examples of items that you can claim for
The items listed below are accepted as being ‘ordinarily’ incorporated in a building (or its site). This is not a complete list.
  • Air conditioning
  • Building materials that make up the fabric of the property (for example, bricks, cement, tiles, timber, etc)
  • Burglar and fire alarms
  • Curtain poles and rails
  • Fireplaces and surrounds
  • Fitted kitchen furniture, sinks, and work surfaces
  • Flooring materials (other than carpets and carpet tiles)
  • Some gas and electrical appliances when wired-in or plumbed-in
  • Heating and ventilation systems including solar panels
  • Light fittings (including chandeliers and outside lights)
  • Plumbing materials, including electric showers, ‘in line’ water softeners and sanitary ware
  • Saunas
  • Turf, plants, trees (to the extent that they are detailed on scheme approved by a Planning Permission) and fencing permanently erected around the boundary of the dwelling
  • TV aerials and satellite dishes
Examples of items that you cannot claim for
This is not a complete list.
  • Aga/range cookers (Unless they are solid fuel, oil-fired or designed to heat space or water. Note: not all cookers are ‘space heaters’ because they incidentally radiate heat while operating. To be classified as such they must be fitted to a heating module or boiler)
  • Free-standing and integrated appliances such as: cookers, fridges, freezers, dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, coffee machines
  • Audio equipment (including remote controls), built-in speakers, intelligent lighting systems, satellite boxes, Freeview boxes, CCTV, telephones
  • Consumables (for example, sandpaper, white spirit)
  • Electrical components for garage doors and gates (including remote controls)
  • Bedroom furniture (unless they are basic wardrobes) bathroom furniture (for example, vanity units and free-standing units)
  • Curtains, blinds (unless they are integral, that is, blinds inside sealed double-glazed window units),
  • Carpets
  • Garden furniture and ornaments and sheds. 

Please contact us if you require assistance with a DIY Housebuild project.

VAT – Retrospective input tax claim opportunity for charities and not for profit bodies.

By   June 22, 2015

The Upper Tribunal has decided In the University Of Cambridge case that costs incurred on running its endowment fund relate to the university’s overall economic activity in general and consequently it is possible to recover an element of it.  The full judgement hereCambridge bridge1

This will impact on all charities and similar bodies which have non-business activities that support their business activities. 

Please contact us if your charity is in a similar position because if past input tax claims have been restricted as a result of HMRC’s interpretation (which is highly likely) it is possible to make a claim which covers the last four years’ VAT costs.