LETTER : Listed buildings can save you tax

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From Ms Ruth Winawer

Sir: I am surprised that in all the present discussion on listed buildings there seems to be no mention of what I found an unexpected and very welcome bonus: the fact that if one makes an alteration to a listed house (mine was Grade II) after going through the process of getting official permission and approval for the design - in my case an outside staircase to the basement - there is no VAT to pay.

I was alerted to this fact by a neighbour. My architect did not know of the exemption and neither did my builder. I confirmed this good news by a visit to the public library. After my own investigation my builder agreed, greatly to his own surprise, and refunded £580 for excess VAT.

Has this exemption from tax for structural work on listed buildings, fulfilling all the regulations, been rescinded? It worked in 1988. If not, should it not be more widely known? Apart from the financial help, I found unexpected pleasure in the implication that bureaucracy could be human - as if someone had said: "Terribly sorry we were a bit boring about making you obey all the rules but have a drink on us - here's your VAT back!"

Yours sincerely,

RUTH WINAWER

London, N10

16 March

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