Understanding VAT Implications for Commercial Property

Understanding VAT Implications for Commercial PropertyUnderstanding VAT Implications for Commercial Property

Commercial property transactions involve various financial considerations, and one significant aspect is Value Added Tax (VAT).

Understanding VAT implications is crucial for both buyers and sellers. It is also one of the often missed considerations for first time commercial property investors.

In this article, we’ll look into the basics of VAT concerning commercial properties, its application, and key considerations for borrowers.

What is VAT in Commercial Property Transactions?

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax levied on goods and services at each stage of production or distribution. In the context of commercial property transactions, VAT applies to the sale, lease, or rental of commercial properties.

The VAT rate and its application can significantly impact the financial aspects of such transactions. Remember that not all commercial properties are subject to VAT so check with your solicitor or accountant early. If VAT is payable then it can be financed alongside your commercial mortgage so it doesn’t have to be a one way expense, you just need to have everything in place – hence talk to your accountant early on.

VAT on Commercial Property Sales

  1. Standard Rate: In many cases the sale of commercial property is subject to VAT at the standard rate. Sellers must charge VAT on the sale price, and buyers need to consider this additional cost.
  2. Exemptions: There can be exemptions or reduced rates for certain types of commercial properties, such as newly constructed buildings or properties used for specific purposes like charitable activities or education.
  3. Opting to Tax: In some cases, sellers may have the option to tax the sale of commercial property. This means they can choose to charge VAT on the sale, even if the property would otherwise be exempt. Opting to tax can have implications for both parties involved.

VAT on Commercial Property Leases

  1. Standard Rate: Lease agreements for commercial properties typically attract VAT at the standard rate. Both landlords and tenants should account for this additional cost when negotiating lease terms. Also be aware of Stamp Duty implications.
  2. Partial Exemption: In some cases, landlords may be subject to partial exemption rules, which affect the amount of VAT they can reclaim on expenses related to the property. This can have implications for the overall financial viability of the lease arrangement.
  3. Transfer of Going Concern (TOGC): In certain circumstances, the transfer of a commercial property lease may qualify as a TOGC, which can have VAT implications for both the landlord and the tenant.

Key Considerations

  1. Due Diligence: Buyers and sellers should conduct thorough due diligence regarding the VAT implications of a commercial property transaction. This includes understanding applicable VAT rates, exemptions, and any opt-in or opt-out options.
  2. Professional Advice: Given the complexity of VAT regulations and their implications, seeking advice from tax professionals or legal experts specialising in commercial property transactions isn’t just advisable, it is essential.
  3. Financial Planning: VAT can have a significant impact on the financial aspects of commercial property transactions. Buyers and Sellers should carefully consider VAT implications as part of their overall financial planning and budgeting.
  4. Documentation: Clear documentation outlining VAT arrangements, including any exemptions or opt-in decisions, should be included in sale or lease agreements to avoid misunderstandings or disputes. The key here is ‘should’, it isn’t always clear so please always do your own checks.


VAT is a critical consideration in commercial property transactions, impacting both buyers and sellers. Understanding the VAT implications, including applicable rates, exemptions, and opt-in/out options, is essential for making informed decisions.

Knowing about any VAT liability means it can be allowed for, financed where necessary and budgeted for early on.

By conducting thorough due diligence, seeking professional advice, and carefully planning the financial aspects, the VAT considerations can be carefully navigated.

Any questions with financing VAT or financing your next commercial property purchase then get in touch.

By Dave Farmer