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.