Thank you to the Taxation Magazine for publishing this helpful article on this somewhat complicated subject.

HMRC reminds construction industry businesses to make sure they are ready for important changes to the VAT rules that come into force later this year.

From 1 October 2020, the VAT reverse charge will be introduced for VAT-registered contractors and subcontractors in the construction industry. Simply put, these rules mean that the customer (contractor) must pay the VAT due on building and construction services they receive to HMRC, instead of the supplier (subcontractor). The supplier’s invoice must make it clear to the customer that the reverse charge applies and the customer can then recover the VAT on the same VAT return, in line with normal rules.

The VAT reverse charge applies only to transactions between VAT-registered contractors and subcontractors where payments must be reported through the construction industry scheme (CIS). The new changes are being implemented as a response to missing trader fraud and are designed to prevent annual losses estimated at about £100m.

If a business is not VAT registered, or if it provides services directly to an end user or someone connected to an end user (including private individuals, landlords and tenants) the VAT reverse charge will not apply.

What Must be done

To make sure that affected businesses are ready for the changes, they will need to:

  • Ensure their accounting systems can process reverse charge supplies and check that supplies and purchases are correctly treated from 1 October 2020;
  • Consider the impact these changes will have on cash flow;
  • Consider taking appropriate steps, such as applying for monthly VAT returns or reviewing terms with suppliers and customers;
  • Visit the GOV.UK website ( for further information

Subcontractors will also need to confirm that they are working for a VAT-registered contractor and that the payment they receive has been or will be reported through the CIS.

Reverse charge help

HMRC understands that implementing the domestic reverse charge could cause difficulties. The department will therefore apply a light-touch approach for errors made in good faith within six months of the introduction of the legislation.


VAT Reverse Charge Diagram - The VAT Reverse charge is coming! Are you ready?