VAT relief on products and services for disabled people
VAT is a tax that you pay as a consumer when you buy goods and services in the European Union (EU), including the United Kingdom. In the UK the standard rate for VAT is 20 per cent. Disabled people don't have to pay VAT when they buy equipment that has been designed solely for disabled people, or on the adaptation of equipment so they can use it.
Also, VAT is not charged on certain services provided to disabled people, including some building work to adapt a disabled person's home and the hire of disability equipment like wheelchairs. Goods and services on which you don't have to pay VAT are often referred to as 'zero-rated' or 'eligible for VAT relief'. In other words, the rate of VAT that is charged on them is zero.
The rules about VAT reliefs for disabled people are complex. Not everything that is supplied to disabled people is zero-rated for VAT.
Who is eligible for VAT relief ?
VAT law states that you must be 'chronically sick or disabled' to qualify for VAT relief.
A person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they:
Have a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term and severe effect on their ability to carry out everyday activities or have a condition that doctors treat as a chronic sickness (like diabetes, for example) or are terminally ill.
A person with a temporary injury like a broken leg would not qualify, nor would a frail older person who was otherwise well and non-disabled.
A product or service must also be supplied for the 'personal or domestic use' of a chronically sick or disabled person to qualify for zero-rating. Things not covered by this include:
Products and services used for business purposes.
Products made widely available for a group of people to use.
Products and services supplied to people who are staying or living in a hospital or nursing home, as part of their medical or surgical treatment or with any form of care.
Products that are eligible for VAT relief
Some examples of products that are zero-rated for VAT are:
Some medical and surgical appliances - like artificial limbs, for example
Electrically or mechanically adjustable beds
Chair or stair lifts
Computer software or hardware designed specifically for disabled people
Gadgets and devices that are designed solely to make everyday tasks easier for disabled people, like kettle tippers
Vehicles that have been adapted for use by a disabled wheelchair or stretcher user
Services that are eligible for VAT relief
Services that are eligible for zero-rating include:
The servicing, maintenance and installation of disability equipment
Adaptation work on equipment or appliances so a disabled person can use them
Some building alterations to a disabled person's home
The hire of qualifying disability equipment
If you are a wheelchair or stretcher user, you should not have to pay VAT when you buy a motor vehicle that has been substantially and permanently adapted for your personal use. A wheelchair user is defined as anyone who has to use a wheelchair - powered or manual - in order to be mobile.
Any adaptation work that is done on an unadapted vehicle to make it suitable for a disabled person's condition, whether or not that person is a wheelchair user, is also eligible for zero-rating. However, there is no VAT relief on the purchase of an unadapted vehicle.
For more information, read the notice 'Motor vehicles for disabled people' on the HM Revenue & Customs website.
Read the notice 'Motor vehicles for disabled people' on the HMRC website (opens new window)
Equipment How VAT reliefs work
Before you pay for any product or service, check that it qualifies for zero-rating and that the supplier is registered for VAT.
When you buy a zero-rated product or service, you may have to sign a form declaring that you have a chronic illness or disability and what it is. You must also declare that the product or service is for your own 'personal or domestic use'. The supplier should have copies of this form.
You can then buy the product or service at a price that excludes VAT. You don't have to pay VAT and then reclaim it from the government - it will be taken off the purchase price before you pay.
You can find an example of the declaration form in the 'VAT reliefs for disabled people' notice on the HM Revenue & Customs website.
Read the 'VAT reliefs for disabled people' notice on the HM Revenue & Customs website (opens new window)
You can find out more about VAT reliefs for disabled people on the HM Revenue & Customs website. If you cannot find the answer to your questions there, you can call their Charities Helpline, which covers VAT reliefs for disabled people.
Telephone: 0845 302 02 03