If you incur an expense (on which there is no VAT charge) for a customer then when you re-bill it to the customer if you categorise it as a “disbursement” you do not have to charge VAT on this part of the bill. Where your customer is not VAT registered this will reduce your charges to them.
The conditions are:
- The costs must be for the customer, not your own business.
- You must have purchased the goods/services.
- The purchases must be itemised separately on your bill to the end customer showing the exact amounts paid.
- There must be evidence of the payment to the supplier.
- No VAT input tax must be claimed on the disbursement by your business.
A solicitor buying a property for a client will incur outgoings on Search fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Land Registry fees. These can be recharged as disbursements. Any admin fee relating to these outgoings must be included in the main charge. Do not add a mark up to the disbursement.
Expense you incur in connection with a job for a client ie travel subsistence etc are not disbursements. So if you buy a train ticket (no VAT) you have to charge 20% VAT on this when recharging it to your client.
The Revenue’s notes on disbursements can be found here.
Published 4 October 2017.
Updated 15 October 2017.