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Government adds VAT to land search service

Published on Tuesday, 20th December 2016

The fee for the land registry service will increase by 20% from the New Year.

Part of the house buying process includes sending a search of the Land Charges Register to local councils. Many solicitors include additional voluntary questions and to achieve both efficiency and consistency across the country, as well as providing a good service to house buyers, an agreed set of additional questions has been developed by the Law Society and councils. This is known as a CON 29 enquiry. Councils are allowed to make a charge for CON 29 enquiries to recover their costs, without making a profit.

CON 29 fees have previously been exempt from VAT but councils across the country have now been instructed by Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs to start charging VAT at 20% from 1st January 2017. This is an instruction the Council has to comply with, so the fee for this service will increase by 20% from the New Year.

Councillor Dennis Harvey, Cabinet Member for Finance & Civic Affairs, said:

“Local authorities have collectively challenged the Government not to do this but we have now been told that a final decision has been made. It is bad news for house buyers but the Council has no choice other than to apply the new tax.”