De-mystifying VAT: meet our expert Colin Laidlaw 

Published by Colin Laidlaw on 9 February 2024

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VAT can be a complicated tax at the best of times, but there are specific rules that apply to real estate transactions which can make it more difficult to get it right.

In particular, transactions can be taxable or exempt. Getting this right makes a significant difference. Coupled with the fact that with real estate the numbers at stake are generally large, any mistakes can be costly without the added threat of HMRC intervention and possible penalties.   

This is why our Real Estate VAT specialist, Colin Laidlawis on hand to add an experienced and practical view to help you navigate the potential pitfalls. 


Colin has specialised in VAT for more than 35 years having worked initially in HM Revenue & Customs (or HM Customs and Excise as it was then) for 11 years as a VAT inspector, and a part of the London Property & Construction team, before moving into professional practice where he has continued to concentrate on real estate and associated industries.   

During his career (both at HMRC and in practice) Colin has worked with some of the largest landlords, developers and construction companies in the UK. He brings this experience to his role at Kreston Reeves, especially in his seasoned and “user friendly” approach when advising the firm’s real estate clients. 

Providing you with solutions 

As part of a team of six VAT professionals, Colin offers practical advice based on real life experience.   

“We have seen it all. We work with our clients at an early stage to ensure that there are no unexpected VAT costs – forewarned is forearmed; getting an unexpected VAT bill after the event reduces (or removes) any profit and can make or break a deal” explains Colin. 

“We can’t always promise to remove any VAT cost, but we can make sure clients are aware of potential issues and can take action to mitigate the impact. We also work with other tax colleagues to ensure rounded advice, and that there are no adverse implications elsewhere (e.g. SDLT, Corporation tax). 

“As ex HMRC Officers, we understand the systems and processes and can offer specific project advice, VAT reviews or liaison with HMRC on areas such as VAT inspections, options to tax and VAT recovery methods. 

To learn more about how Colin and our dedicated VAT team can help your business, please contact him today. 

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