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If I receive a quote for work from a tradesman, and this quote is supplied as a document (PDF) which does not mention VAT as being either includes or excluded, can the tradesman later say that it didn't include VAT and demand I pay 20% more than the amount stated on the quote?

  • 1
    Did the tradesman give any indication that his business was VAT-registered? He can't charge VAT if he's not registered. Plus I was under the impression that quotes to "end users" (ie, not businesses) in the UK had to include VAT, but unfortunately I have no source for that. – Timo Geusch Sep 29 '11 at 15:23
  • To avoid any misunderstandings, escalation & uncomfortable situations without reason etc, I would clarify this beforehand without agreeing to anything. Thats far more reasonable than trying to deduce what is implied by a random PDF offer. – Leon Nov 10 '17 at 14:17
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No, a tradesperson is not acting withing the law if they add VAT in an invoice if it wasn't also clear in the quote.

To do so is a misleading omission under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The Pricing Practices Guide section 2, while having no mandatory force, is easy to read and explains to traders that:

All price indications you give to consumers, by whatever means, should include VAT.

  • Exception: A tradesman with revenue of less than £82,000 per year doesn't have to be VAT registered, and if not VAT registered, must NOT include VAT on the bill, and would be stupid to include it on any quotes. It's rarely the case for a tradesman having a helper, or in a job where he supplies materials, which increase the revenue. Your window cleaner or gardener is quite likely not VAT registered. – gnasher729 Nov 11 '17 at 15:08
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There are two things to consider here, whether you will have to pay VAT on top of the price quoted, and whether you will be able to reclaim the VAT yourself. From the tags, I'd guess the latter isn't an issue, but I'll cover it anyway.

If the tradesman is VAT registered (and his/her VAT registration number should be on the quote if he/she is) then he/she can quote with or without VAT, but should specify on the quote. If it is not specified that you should add VAT, it should be safe to assume that the quote is for the price you pay, however watch out for all quotes ex. VAT in the small print of the trademans standard terms and conditions.

The best option would be to clarify with the trademan. A simple "Are you VAT registered, if so could you confirm that the quote is the price inclusive of VAT?" e-mail should suffice.

If the tradesman is VAT not registered, then they cannot add VAT. If they didn't mention their VAT number on their quote (which they should do if they are VAT registered) then this reduces your risk, but it's probably better off to confirm with them.

On the last point, which is unlikely to be relevant to you - If you are not VAT registered then you cannot reclaim VAT even if it was included.

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If a price is quoted with no mention of VAT, then it includes VAT. So your tradesman can't then add VAT on top.

  • Would you have a reference to support this? – Chris W. Rea Sep 29 '11 at 13:25
  • I fear it's personal experience. A company I worked for lost a five-figure sum by quoting a price without specifying that it excluded VAT. – Mike Scott Sep 29 '11 at 14:33

protected by Chris W. Rea Nov 10 '17 at 20:08

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