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HMRC internal manual

VAT Taxable Person Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Issues to consider: identifying disbursements in particular areas and trades: private investigators

Where private investigators incur expenses for items such as travel, postage, or the swearing of an oath in the presence of a solicitor, the supply is to them, not to their client. They must therefore include these costs in the value of their supply and charge VAT accordingly. However, where private investigators pay ‘conduct money’ to meet the expenses of witnesses attending court, this represents the refunding of the cost of supplies which were made direct to those witnesses. Private investigators therefore act as agent for the client in paying this conduct money, and can treat the payment as a disbursement, provided that they only recover from the client the exact amount which was paid to the witness.