And now for a sobering story about HMRC (formerly Inland Revenue):

A year ago I filed away an article from Homebuilding &Renovating magazine about VAT and how to make sure you pay the right amount. It stated that house-builders pay no VAT if they convert a property which has lain empty for more than 10 years (as has my barn.) Neither my architect nor my main contractor knew anything about this, so I rang HMRC to check. The advisor contradicted the advice in H&R, telling me that I would have to pay 5% VAT. So I went back and checked the article. It seemed very clear. I rang HMRC again, only to be given the same answer – that I had to pay 5% VAT. An advisor even told me, “Magazines often get these things wrong.”

So when I saw last month’s article about VAT which again clearly stated that renovated barns should be zero-rated, I rang HMRC yet again. This time, after being passed to a senior advisor and spending a very long time on hold, they confirmed that H&R was right and I would be able to claim back all the VAT on my project. So my £35 yearly subscription has just saved me £9,000….although I’ll be relieved when I actually see the cheque.

  • Hugo Duden

    Congratulations! Nice to see that your persistence paid off. Sometimes you have to keep plugging away at things like this becasue it’s so easy for them to give you the brush off.

  • Nicholas Mccarthy

    if ever in doubt,ask everyone and anyone.hmrc are typical of big organisations that employ thousands of people,but don’t train the employees to give you the right answers.

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