VQOTW: Intermediary Services

My client is a UK VAT registered recruitment agency specialising in temporary staffing within the advertising industry. As my client has the contacts, he was approached by a start-up UK marketing consultancy to help them find new contracts, and he found a customer in the US for their services. My client is now invoicing his fee to the marketing company for arranging that supply. Will this be a standard rate supply because they are invoicing a UK business? We believe this falls under the B2B general rule for intermediary services as per VAT Notice 741a section 11.

An intermediary for VAT purposes is a person or entity acting as a third party in arranging or facilitating the making of supplies. They are also known as agents, brokers or commissionaires.

As per VAT Notice 741A section 11, the place of supply rules are as follows for intermediary services:

  • B2B – this falls under the general rule, therefore taxable where the business customer is located.
  • B2C – supplies are taxable where the underlying arranged supply is made.

As your client is making a supply to a UK company, the place of supply is the UK, and if your client was making arrangements for a supply of services taking place within the UK or EC then his supply of intermediary services would be standard rated.

However, your client is arranging a supply, the place of supply of which will be the US. This is zero rated under Item 2(c) of Group 7, Schedule 8. HMRC’s internal Place of Supply of Services Manual, VATPOSS10200, confirms this:

“Zero rating under item 2(c) can only apply where the intermediary’s supply is made in the UK, but the arranged supply is itself made outside the EC.

It is possible for a UK intermediary to supply services to a UK customer in arranging a service for which the place of supply is the recipient’s country outside the EC. In these circumstances, the UK intermediary’s service to the customer, the UK principal, is supplied in the UK but is zero-rated under item 2(c) of Group 7, because the service is the making of arrangements for a supply of services which is itself made outside the EC.”

This is also covered in VAT notice 741a section 16.  https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/vat-place-of-supply-services/vatposs10200.

Your client’s invoice to the UK marketing company will be zero rated as it relates to arranging a supply where the eventual place of supply would be outside of the EC.

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Priyesh has worked as a VAT Compliance Officer for HMRC since 2013 prior to joining Croner Taxwise. He initially worked in Small and Medium Enterprises before moving on to Wealthy & Midsize Businesses in 2014 where he gained a broad understanding of VAT and trained new VAT entrants.

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