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Definition of Reverse Charge

1. When did the new system take effect?

a. It took effect from 1 January 2012.

2. Who does it affect?

a. All those involved in construction services within the scope of RCT i.e. all principal contractors and sub-contractors within the construction industry, but excluding those providing haulage for hire.

3. What is the reverse charge?

a. The reverse charge is a method of accounting for VAT.

4. When a sub-contractor invoices a principal contractor, who must account for the VAT?

a. The principal must account for the VAT.

5. When must the principal contractor show the reverse charge VAT on the VAT 3?

The reverse charge VAT should be included in the VAT return for the VAT period in which the reverse charge invoice is issued or should have issued in box T1.

6. Who is responsible for issuing the reverse charge invoice?

a. The sub-contractor normally issues the invoice.

7. What information must appear on the reverse charge invoice?

a. The invoice (whether issued by the subcontractor or the principal contractor) must contain the statement “VAT on this supply to be accounted for by the Principal Contractor” as well as all the same information that would appear on a normal VAT invoice, except the VAT rate and the VAT amount.

8. Is VAT due on the supply if a sub-contractor does not have a VAT number?

a.    If a sub-contractor is not VAT registered because his turnover is under the threshold he will not have a VAT number. VAT is not then due on the supply.
b.    However, where a sub-contractor who is not established in the State makes a supply to a principal contractor VAT is due on the supply irrespective of whether the sub-contractor provides an Irish VAT number.

9. How will a principal contractor know he must account for VAT by reverse charge?

a. The invoice issued by the sub-contractor will state “VAT ON THIS SUPPLY TO BE ACCOUNTED FOR BY THE PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR”. However the principal should ensure that the correct documentation is received i.e. (a) that an invoice received with the above notation are for services correctly subject to reverse charge and (b) that where services supplied do not come within reverse charge a normal VAT invoice is received.

10. A subcontractor needs to issue a credit note in respect of a supply. What is the VAT position?

a. The subcontractor must issue the credit note including VAT. A subcontractor who accounted for VAT on an invoice basis may make an adjustment in the VAT return in the period in which the credit note issued to reduce liability by reducing the VAT on Sales (T1) figure. If the subcontractor has no VAT on Sales in that period by virtue of all his supplies being subject to reverse charge, he can, for practical administration, increase his T2 figure by the amount of VAT on the credit note. The principal should also make an adjustment in his VAT return in that period by reducing his T2 amount by the amount of the VAT on the credit note.

11. How is retention money dealt with?

a.  If a contract provides for a period of retention the invoice in respect of retention money should be raised within 15 days of the end of the month in which the guarantee period expires. VAT should be accounted for by reference to the date the invoice is raised or should have been raised.

12. If, as is the practice in some cases, a principal contractor applies RCT to all payments made to a sub-contractor even if some of the services supplied are not construction services, what is the VAT treatment of the non-construction services?

a.  Reverse charge should only be applied to those services that are construction operations. For example, an alarm company installs an alarm system for a local authority and gets the contract for the routine maintenance of the alarm. The installation of the alarm is subject to reverse charge so the local authority accounts for the VAT. The maintenance service is not subject to reverse charge and the alarm company should account for the VAT on the maintenance service. The alarm company should issue a reverse charge invoice for the installation and a VAT invoice for the maintenance.

13. Is there any change in the application of RCT as a result of the reverse charge system?

a. The only change is that the principal contractor will calculate RCT on the VAT exclusive amount.

14. Are non-established sub-contractors required to register for VAT?

a. Not if their only supplies within the State are to principal contractors. However those sub-contractors who are already registered should remain registered for the purpose of claiming any VAT repayments due. Non-established sub-contractors who are commencing work in the State for the first time and who only provide services to principal contractors are not obliged to register for VAT but should register for the purpose of claiming any VAT repayments. Non-established sub-contractors who also provide construction services for customers other than principal contractors must register. For example, a carpenter from the UK who carries out work only for principal contractors in this State is not obliged to register. However if he also gets a contract from a retailer to fit out a shop, he must register irrespective of turnover.

15. If the principal is a Government Department, Local Authority or Public Body what is their VAT situation?

o    Many of these organisations were not previously registered for VAT.
o    They must now register for VAT. Instead of paying VAT to the subcontractor they must pay the VAT on the supplies from subcontractors directly to Revenue, showing it on the VAT 3 return form under T1.
o    Most of these organisations are not carrying on taxable activities and so are not entitled to claim input credit in respect of the reverse charge VAT.

16. Some construction contracts include the supply and installation of fittings including floor coverings that are not stuck down over their entire surfaces and light fittings that are not recessed. Are these supplies and fittings subject to the reverse charge?

a.    No. Supply and installation of fittings are not services within the scope of the reverse charge legislation. A supplier should issue a separate VAT invoice charging VAT at 23% for the element of the contract which relates to supply and installation of fittings.

b.   Other examples of fittings include:
•    Blinds (most types)
•    Clocks including time clocks such as flexitime equipment
•    Cooker hoods
•    Curtains
•    Electric and gas fires
•    Exhibition stands
•    Fitted carpets and lino, other than floor covering stuck down over its entire surface
•    Freestanding shop counters
•    Kitchen cookers
•    Lighting other than recessed lighting
•    Mirrors
•    Most shelving
•    Refrigeration units, including deep freezes
•    Safes (certain)
•    Seating, including cinema and church seating whether or not secured to the floor
•    Snooker tables and other games tables
•    Washing machines and dishwashers, including plumbed-in machines.

17. Do the new rules apply to professionals within the construction industry?

a.     Reverse charge rules do not apply to payments to:
(a)    architects,
(b)    quantity surveyors,
(c)    engineers
(d)    or design teams.

18. Will the new rules affect entitlement to claim input credits?

a. Some principals (e.g. local authorities, public bodies) are not carrying on taxable activities and are therefore not entitled to input credits.

19. Haulage does not come under reverse charge rules. What happens if a construction contract includes an element of haulage?

a. Where it is not practical to invoice separately for the haulage element of the contract reverse charge should apply to the whole contract. For example, a subcontractor who gets a contract to demolish a building, clear a site and transport the rubble should apply reverse charge to the full consideration. If a subcontractor has a contract solely to transport the rubble from a site this would be considered haulage and not subject to reverse charge. A haulier hired by either the contractor or the supplier to deliver the concrete is subject to RCT but not to reverse charge.

20. How is waste disposal from a construction site treated?

a. A contract for site clearance involving the removal of earth or rubble from the site and the transportation of same to landfill is subject to reverse charge. For example, if a subcontractor provides a digger with driver and a truck with driver to clear the site, load the truck and transport the material to landfill, reverse charge will apply to the full contract. A contract which is solely to transport the material to landfill is haulage and not subject to reverse charge.

b. The hire of a skip for use in a relevant construction operation is subject to reverse charge.

21. How are design-and-build contracts treated?

a.  A design/build contract is considered to be a composite supply. The principal supply is the building. The rate of VAT applicable to such a contract is 13.5%. Where the contract is a relevant contract between a principal contractor and sub-contractor reverse charge rules apply to the full contract excluding any element of the contract relating to supply and installation of fittings.

b. The supply and installation of fittings should be invoiced separately under normal VAT rules and the rate applicable is 23%. Gym Equipment.

22. Is the supply and delivery of ready-to-pour concrete subject to reverse charge?

a. The delivery of ready-to-pour concrete by the supplier (irrespective of where or how it is placed) is considered to be the supply of building material. It is not subject to RCT or reverse charge rules. A haulier hired by either the contractor or the supplier to deliver the concrete is subject to RCT but not to reverse charge. (updated 1 December 2008)

23. How are repair and maintenance contracts treated?

a.    If the contract provides for a single consideration for the repair and maintenance then reverse charge should apply to the full consideration.

b.    If the contract provides that a separate charge should apply where repairs are necessary then only the consideration applicable to the repairs is subject to reverse charge. Each case should be examined on its own merit.

c.    Repair would generally be considered to be an operation carried out to fix, mend or restore the building/structure to its previous condition. Examples of repair include replacement of glass in broken window, replace/fix broken tiles, mending faulty boiler. Maintenance includes operations such as cleaning (internal & external) except cleaning of a newly constructed building.

24. How are prepayments and progress payments dealt with under the new system?

a.  Where a contract involves payments in advance of completion (e.g. deposit, progress payments, installments) the invoice must be raised within 15 days of the end of the month in which such a payment is made. VAT should be accounted for in the return for the period in which the invoice is raised or should have been raised. The school cannot claim input credit for the VAT on such payments for the same period.

25. Are site investigations subject to reverse charge?

a.    The term “site investigations” covers a wide variety of services that are carried out in advance of or during building projects. Each contract should be examined on it’s own merit. In determining whether a contract for site investigations is a construction operation and therefore subject to RCT and reverse charge VAT rules, a number of factors need to be considered:

(a)    Is the work an integral part of, or preparatory to, the overall construction operation? Are the investigations of a kind which are imposed on the principal by way of regulation (such as archaeological investigations or environmental impact studies) or are they investigations of a kind without which it would not be possible to design/construct the building (e.g. geo-technical)?
(b)    Does the contract involve a considerable degree of labour intensive fieldwork?
(c)    Does the contract involve professional services (i.e. consultancy services of engineers, geologists etc that would be subject to Professional Services Withholding Tax in certain circumstances. See Guide to Professional Services Withholding Tax on

b.    If the investigations carried out are such that without them the design/construction of the building (leaving aside investigations which are imposed on the contractor by regulation) could not actually proceed, these investigations are considered to be an integral part of, or preparatory to, the construction operation. Work that is ancillary to the project or imposed on the contractor would not be considered construction operations. If the work is more of a professional services nature and the fieldwork is a very minor part of the investigations then RCT and VAT reverse charge would not apply to any part of the contract. Where there is a significant amount of fieldwork (i.e. drilling, excavation etc) involved and the activity is integral, or preparatory, to the construction operation then RCT and VAT reverse charge will apply to the full consideration where a single invoice is issued for the fieldwork and professional services. It should be noted, however, that professional services are subject to VAT at 23% and they should be clearly identified as professional services when shown on a reverse charge invoice.

c.    Examples of site investigations:

d.    Archaeological digs are not considered an integral part of, or preparatory to the construction operation and are therefore not subject to RCT or reverse charge.

e.    Geo-technical work involving excavation, drilling and other fieldwork to provide information necessary for the design and/or construction of a building or structure would generally be considered an integral part of, or preparatory to, construction. A contract for geo-technical services may involve significant fieldwork with some laboratory work and consultancy. Where the fieldwork is the significant part of the contract the full contract is subject to RCT and reverse charge. Any professional services included in the reverse charge invoice are subject to VAT at 23%. (updated 2 February 2009)

26. How should the VAT Return of Trading Details (RTD EUR) form be completed?

a.    The principal contractor should enter the value of the construction services received from the subcontractor in Column 1 at either the 13.5% or 23% rate as appropriate. Schools are not entitled to input credit in respect of these services.