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HMRC internal manual

VAT Place of Supply of Services

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Other services to non-EU customers (B2C): Services of consultants, engineers, lawyers, accountants, similar services, data processing, and the provision of information

This paragraph covers the normal services of experts in the various professions mentioned in the Act.

Consultants

Examples of the services of consultants, include

  • market research
  • research and development
  • advisory services
  • written translation services (although written translation may be supplied at a live event - for example sub-titles produced at a conference or meeting would be supplied where the event is held
  • computer software maintenance, consisting of technical back up and problem solving services to correct problems with existing software, including file reconstruction/retrieval
  • educational services where the supplier and the customer are in different countries from each other at the time when the supply is made. See also educational services that are supplied where performed (VATPOSS08500).
  • auctioneer’s services to the seller of the goods where the service consists of advising the seller of the state of the market , the best location for the sale and so on, normally known as a seller’s commission. But the service which the auctioneer supplies to the buyer of the goods (buyer’s premium) is a separate supply which is not covered by any of the exceptions to the general rule and as such is taxable where the auctioneer belongs for a non-business customer.

Engineers

Examples of the services of engineers include

  • technicians/engineers producing a master tape, an edit master, record or video from which copies will be made
  • engineering design or consultancy services, irrespective of the qualifications of the engineer
  • supplies by engineers which involve both “intellectual” advice and overseeing of the resultant physical work, provided that any supervision of the actual installation, construction and so on is merely to ensure that the design or other advice is properly implemented.

Accountants and Lawyers

Examples of the services normally provided by lawyers and accountants in their professional capacities (excluding any services directly relating to land) include the professional services of lawyers, accountants, auditors and other persons acting for executors or trustees in the general administration of a deceased person’s estate, even if it includes property, whether inside or outside the UK. But such services in winding up a foreign estate are seen as supplied to whoever is appointed executor or administrator.

It includes services described as management services, the essential nature of which comprise accountancy or legal services.

Other similar services

Examples of other similar services include

  • design services, for example the design of clothes or furniture (but not design services directly related to land, such as those of an architect - see VATPOSS07500)
  • services of surveyors providing opinions on matters which do not relate to land
  • services of specialists or technicians which are essentially creative or artistic in nature

Data Processing

The term data processing is not defined in the place of supply legislation. However, we follow the definition given in the Data Protection Act 1984, Part 1, paragraph 1(7) which is:

“Processing”, in relation to data, means amending, augmenting, deleting, or re arranging the data or extracting the information constituting the data and, in the case of personal data, means performing any of those operations by reference to the data subject.

Data processing involves the performing of mathematical and logical operations on data according to programmed instructions in order to obtain required information.

Provision of information

The term the provision of information is not defined in law and has not been considered by the courts. It covers

  • provision of tourist information
  • provision of information relating to stock markets and share prices
  • information supplied by a private enquiry agent
  • “on-line” information services where the subscriber receives the information and not simply the right to access the system or network
  • telephone helpdesk services for providing computer software support and similar advice, and
  • satellite navigational and locational services.

Excluded services

Examples of services that would not fall within this heading are:

  • services provided by architects, surveyors, consultants, solicitors and accountants consisting primarily of work such as design, surveying, site supervision, conveyancing, valuation, or obtaining planning consent, where these are directly related to land or property (see VATPOSS07500)
  • “services of engineers” which consist wholly or mainly of physical work on goods, including installation of goods - these are supplied where physically performed (see VATPOSS08750)
  • certain services that include an element of data processing where this is supplied simply as a means of completing a contract, in which case the actual services to which the contract relates will determine the place of supply.
  • simple reformatting of data, where there is no change to the meaning of the content, and
  • delivery or transmission of another person’s information by whatever means.