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HMRC internal manual

VAT Place of Supply of Services

Land-related services: Examples of land-related services

Examples include

  • services of estate agents, auctioneers, architects, surveyors, engineers and similar professional people relating to land, buildings or civil engineering works and management, conveyance, survey or valuation of property by a solicitor or surveyor
  • seismic surveying and associated data processing services on land
  • services of a loss adjuster in assessing validity of an insurance claim relating to damage to land or buildings
  • legal services such as conveyancing and dealing with applications for planning permission
  • lease or hire of exhibition stand space, where the specific stand space is reserved by an individual exhibitor
  • but if a supply of exhibition stand space is made with the specific location of the stand allocated on arrival this would fall to be taxed where the exhibition takes place (see VATPOSS08700).
  • property management, including rent collection and arranging for routine maintenance
  • interior designing for a particular hotel
  • leases of buildings for less than 21 years (which is a supply of a service)
  • provision of hotel or holiday accommodation
  • options to purchase land
  • provision of car parking, and
  • provision of space in a warehouse (whether in a designated area or not).

Schedule 4A para 1 is only concerned with defining the place of supply of the service, not the liability. A fuller description of the various types of transaction in the field of land and property can be found in the manual covering land and property, which also deals in detail with the liability of such supplies.

The Tribunal considered the meaning of services related to land in two earlier cases. In Brodrick Wright & Strong Ltd (LON/86/461) (VTD 2347), a firm of surveyors supplied services to customers in Hong Kong and Bermuda of surveying docks located in the UK which had been damaged by ships. The Appellant argued that his services were supplied where the recipient belonged since they were consultancy services concerned with insurance claims, and only indirectly related to land. The Tribunal held that the docks were land (referring to the Interpretation Act 1978) and that the trader’s services related directly to the land, since they inspected it in detail to assess the damage caused.

The Appellant used a similar argument in Mechanical Engineering Consultants Ltd (MAN/93/1074) (VTD 13287). In that case a one man company supplied services of commissioning a large incineration plant in the UK to a Swiss customer. The Appellant argued that its services did not relate to land, as the plant was not land, so the services were either engineering or supply of staff within Schedule 3 of the VAT Act 1983 and therefore supplied where the recipient belonged. The Tribunal considered in some detail English legal precedents on when fixtures could be considered to be land, and concluded that the plant involved in this case was land. The trader’s contract with his customer was for a supply of engineer’s services, not staff, and since it related to land, it was supplied where the land was situated in the UK.