VAT on Apartment sales abolished by new Govt from 1st Dec 2019
The Government has abolished the VAT taxes on Condominiums, effective 01st Dec 2019. The Govt issued a Gazette notification 2151/52 on 29/11/2019 informing that the previous Gazette 2147/59 issued on 31/10/2019 will be rescinded. The previous Gazette on 31/10/2019 (2147/59) by then Finance minister Mangala Samaraweera reduced the VAT rate from 15% to 6%, effective 1st Nov 2019.
The following information has been made obsolete by the Gazette notification on 29/11/2019. The information below is for historical purposes only.
Previous update: 30/10/2019
15% VAT on Apartment sales will come in to affect from 1st of April 2019, according to the government Gazette issued 16th of August 2018, with the title ‘VALUE ADDED TAX (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 25 OF 2018’.
According to the Finance Ministry sources, as it stands, if the Sales & Purchase Agreement (SPA) is signed before the 1st of April 2019, the buyer is not liable to pay VAT, even for payments made after this date.
The VAT exemption only applies if all units in the apartment project is under LKR 25 million; which would eliminate most of the apartments for sale in and around Colombo from this exemption.
On the 6th of Aug 2019, the Cabinet decided to amend the budget proposals, to increase the VAT exemption for apartments, from under 15 million to under LKR 25 million and also exempt housing units which received compliance certificates (COC) from a local authority or have a completed Sales and Purchase Agreement under the Notary Ordinance before the implementation of the VAT act (i.e. before 1st April 2019). These changes have now been passed in Parliament on 23rd October 2019.
VAT should be exempted if you’re buying the property from a private seller (owner) in the secondary market (re-sale), unless the property is owned by a VAT registered company.
If implemented, the increase in VAT is expected to significantly affect the sales of condominium units unless the developers absorb it’s costs in the selling prices.
The full Gazette can be read from here (Section 8 (ii))
The VAT implementation can only be cancelled or delayed by the government issuing a new Gazette notification, cancelling the previous amendments.
A list of new apartment projects in the country can be found from here