If you have a long-term illness or are disabled, you don’t have to pay VAT on certain goods and services that you buy in the UK. In general the equipment covered by this scheme are things that are of practical help to you because of your illness or disability. Disabled people don’t have to pay VAT when they buy equipment that has been designed for disabled people or when they have equipment adapted so they can use it.
The rules about VAT reliefs for disabled people are in depth and complex. Not everything that is supplied to disabled people is zero-rated for VAT.
If you are in any doubt as to whether you are eligible to receive goods or services zero-rated for VAT you should consult HM Revenue & Customs – Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people or the HMRC National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000.
What counts as a long-term illness or disabled?
For VAT purposes, you have a long-term illness or are disabled if you meet any of the following conditions:
- have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and adverse effect on their ability to carry out everyday activities
- you have a condition that a medical profession (i.e. doctor, occupational therapist, nurse) treat as a chronic sickness (like diabetes, arthritis) 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 generally able-bodied, or a chronically sick person who’s only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.
You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian, wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you will not be charged VAT.
What counts as personal or domestic use?
- Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for are for your own private use and not for products / services used for business purposes or made widely available for a group of people to use
Products that are eligible for VAT relief
Some of the examples below of products that are zero-rated for VAT are:
- mobility scooters – Class 2 , Class 3 solely designed to used by a disabled person
- adjustable beds, riser recliners
- stairlifts, hoists
- gadgets and devices that are designed specifically to make everyday tasks easier for disabled people, like long handled pick up sticks
- incontinence products
- commode stools, commode chairs, frames or other devices to help sitting on or rising from a sanitary appliance
Services that are eligible for a VAT zero-rating include:
- the servicing, maintenance and installation of disability equipment
- adaptation work on equipment or appliances so a disabled person can use them
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 will have to electronically 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’.
You can then buy the product or service at a price that excludes VAT. You don’t have to pay VAT ,the supplier will then reclaim it from the government – it will be taken off the purchase price before you pay.
You can find out more about VAT reliefs for disabled people on the HM Revenue & Customs website.