The Law Society has issued new guidance for conveyancers amid continuing uncertainty over the imposition of VAT on local authority searches. 

HMRC has proposed that VAT should be charged by local authorities on CON29 and CON29O searches. They proposed an implementation date of 1 January 2017.

We understand that local authorities will introduce the charging of VAT between 1 January 2017 and 31 March 2017. We issued information in May and June 2016 about this proposal.

HMRC originally proposed introducing this change on 4 July 2016 but matters such as the EU Referendum delayed progress and the introduction was postponed indefinitely. 

 HMRC have said that the implementation date of 1 January 2017 will not apply to local authorities who were not in a position to charge VAT from that date. These local authorities have been asked to tell HMRC when they will be making the change but this is not to be later than 31 March 2017. 

As a result solicitors will need to look at the land charges sections of local authority websites to establish when a particular authority is proposing to implement the changes.