Delays to VAT refunds in NI

Self-builders who’ve built a new home have been waiting nearly a year to get their VAT refund on their new build projects in NI, even though applications are meant to be processed within six weeks.

In this article we cover:

  • Self-builder experiences of delays in processing VAT claims in NI
  • What the authorities are doing about the delays
  • How to apply for your VAT refund
  • Other issues self-builders are having in relation to filing for their VAT refund
  • What VAT rebates are available to people extending or renovating in NI

One self-builder in NI, who appointed a contractor for his new build project, submitted his application in February 2022. Eight months later, in October 2022, he received the letter confirming the balance would be paid into his account “up to 10 weeks later”.

Self-builders in NI who build a new home are entitled to recover the VAT they paid on materials upon completion of their build.

The application must be made to the central tax authority, the HMRC, after sign-off from building control. You need to apply in writing; the current form to fill out is below and this must be done within three months of completion of the build.

“Now I’m sitting having to follow up with them to see where the money is,” he said in February 2023. “They are a nightmare to get a hold of. You try phoning and if by luck you get through, then they arrange a call back. I phoned a few times, and they just kept saying it was with them and there is no way to go any quicker. And they said not to get in touch, that they would be in touch.”

“We understand the impact waiting for these repayments has on customers,” a spokesperson for the HMRC told Selfbuild. “That’s why we’ve put in extra resource and speeded up our processes. As a result, we should be working new claims within our six-week target in March 2023.”

Another self-builder in NI, who went with a direct labour new build, submitted his claim in early November 2022. When he called mid-December he was told that they were processing June 2022 applications.

“When I phoned in late January 2023, I was told they were processing Sept/Oct applications,” he said. “I did some special pleading and a very nice lady agreed to bring my application out of storage and into the processing queue so I know mine is now going through verification but only as she made an exception.”

“The worst I came across was a claim that was submitted in the spring of 2021,” Dave Brown, VAT expert in Devon, told Selfbuild. “The HMRC wrote to the client with questions within a couple of months. The client replied and didn’t hear anything else for a year. They eventually got the money in October 2022.”

“One major problem was that a lot of HMRC staff were moved sideways to deal with Covid, furlough, etc., so when the staff were replaced, the new ones may not have had the same knowledge and experience.”

“It’s not all about the Covid hangover, though, as it has continued beyond. This morning [in February 2022] I received a letter from HMRC about a claim I submitted in October 2022, stating they’ve received it and will be dealing with it in the next six weeks. So, if they’re lucky the client will get it paid within six months from when the claim was made.”

Self-builders in NI have also come across the issue of having their claims rejected; read more about that topic here.

Self-builders who are extending or renovating are entitled to a VAT rebate for green energy upgrades and if the property has been vacant for at least two years.

Builders are campaigning for a VAT rebate on all renovation projects.

delays vat refund

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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