New Forest

New VAT Rules for Building Trade in 2019

Under new rules due to come in on 1 October 2019 builders, sub-contractors and other trades associated with the construction industry will have to start using a new method of accounting for VAT.

The measure is designed to combat VAT fraud in the construction sector labour supply chain which HMRC argue presents a significant tax loss. HMRC has now published draft legislation to introduce the Reverse Charge for Construction Services.

Under the proposed new rules, supplies of standard or reduced-rated building services between VAT-registered businesses in the supply chain will not be invoiced in the normal way. Under the reverse charge a main contractor would account for the VAT on the services of any sub-contractor and the supplier does not invoice for VAT. The customer (main contractor) would then account for VAT on the net value of the supplier’s invoice and at the same time deduct that VAT – leaving a nil net tax position. This is intended to ensure that VAT is correctly accounted for on supplies by sub-contractors.

Construction Work Affected

The reverse charge will apply to a wide range of services in the building trade, including construction, alteration, repairs, demolition, installation of heat, light, water and power systems, drainage, painting and decorating, erection of scaffolding, civil engineering works and associated site clearance, excavation, and foundation works. The definitions have been lifted directly from the CIS legislation.

Excluded Works

Professional services of architects or surveyors, or of consultants in building, engineering, interior or exterior decoration or in the laying-out of landscape are not covered by the new rules. The draft legislation sets out other work to which the reverse charge does not apply.

Cashflow Impact

The main disadvantage to arise from the change, besides the additional administration, is the impact on cashflow. For a subcontractor the VAT received from a contractor may not need to be paid to HMRC for three months. Without this VAT alternative sources of finance may be needed.

It is hoped that the legislation and guidance will be finalised by October 2018 to allow businesses at least 12 months in which to make the necessary changes to systems. Please contact us if you are likely to be affected by these changes and we can work with you to ensure you are ready for the new system.

For further information on the new VAT rules for the building trade, please contact Alan Rolfe on 023 8046 1200.

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