Quite simply as the title suggests you can get VAT taken off certain products at point of sale that are directly related to your disability. I have used this before when I purchased a Tempur mattress for home to help improve my quality of sleep and reduce my pain. As these are quite expensive I potentially saved hundreds of pounds.

It is however an extremely complicated process to write about or explain on a website which might explain the fact I found very few websites even mentioning this area of VAT law. In this section I will aim to do the impossible and provide you with some of the information you need to determine what products are covered, who is eligible and how to actually save your VAT in practice.

The Law

You and the supplier are responsible for making sure that you are eligible for goods or services 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 Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people or contact the National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 before signing the declaration.

There are strong penalties for those making false declarations.

This section on the website is designed to inform you that some goods and services are zero-rated for VAT if certain rules apply. It is not advice or a guide of about the rules or the law relating to VAT but provides a summary of certain parts of the law to assist you in determining if it is worth your time to look into the all the rules properly prior to making a purchase of medical items. Be in no doubt that this website does not equip you with what you need to know and is not meant to be read to determine if you are eligible for zero-rated VAT. In every circumstance you must read Notice 701/7 “VAT reliefs for disabled people” or obtain advice from the National Advice Service after reading this guide if you intend to make a purchase using these rules.

How to do it

I am explaining this part of the process first as strangely it’s the easiest to explain. This part is written assuming two facts: 1) The product is eligible for VAT relief AND 2) You are eligible for VAT relief due to your disability

You and the VAT registered supplier/retailer each fill in a declaration and you pay the supplier/retailer the price of the item minus it’s VAT amount. The supplier them sends the declarations to the VAT man (HMRC) and if the declarations are found to be valid then the supplier/retailer gets VAT relief to the value of the unpaid VAT and therefore their VAT bill is reduced to that amount.

Example of the Buyers Declaration

If you are in any doubt as to whether you are eligible to receive goods or services zero-rated for VAT you should consult Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people or contact our National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 before signing the declaration.

I (full name) ……………………………………………………………………

of (address) ……………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………..

declare that:

I am chronically sick or have a disabling condition by reason of: (give full and specific description of your condition); and that
I am receiving from: (name and address of supplier)
* the following goods which are being supplied to me for domestic or my personal use:
(description of goods)
* the following services to adapt goods to suit my condition:
(description of services and goods)
* the following services of installation, repair or maintenance of goods:
(description of services and goods)
* the following alterations to my private residence:
(description of alteration)
* the services of monitoring a personal alarm call system
and I claim relief from value added tax.

…………………………………………………………………….. (Signature)

……………………………………………………………………………. (Date)

Example of Sellers Declaration

I (full name) ……………………………………………………………………….

of (address) ……………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………

am supplying to the person named above:

* the following goods:
(description of goods)

* the following services of adapting goods:
(description of services and goods)

* the following services of installation, repair or maintenance of goods:
(description of services and goods)

* the following alterations to a private residence:
(description of alteration)

* the services of monitoring a personal alarm call system

for the personal use of the disabled person.

…………………………………………………………………….. (Signature)

……………………………………………………………………………. (Date)

*Delete words not applicable

Note

You should keep this declaration for production to your VAT officer. The production of this declaration does not automatically justify the zero-rating of the supply. You must ensure that the goods and services you are supplying qualify for zero-rating.

The buyer/seller agreement

You need to come to an agreement as a buyer with the seller. You both must agree that you can meet the conditions for these purchases to be free of VAT. If for any reason the declaration is not correct then the seller will be liable for the VAT on the sale and I would need legal opinion before I could say that the seller could not pursue the buyer for the VAT through legal avenues. I have also not read anything to suggest there is any obligation on any seller to offer VAT free products so I can only assume it is entirely at their discretion and an agreement would need to be reached between the buyer and seller first.

I would assume that retailers selling products for the disabled would be aware of the rules for VAT relief however other retailers that don’t sell medical products or products for the disabled as their main product line would perhaps not be aware of the rules. Therefore don’t just assume that any retailer would be prepared to offer VAT relief if the both you and the product are eligible and if your looking to make a purchase using these rules I would encourage you to enter into dialogue with the seller at the earliest opportunity.

What products and services may be eligible for Zero-Rated VAT

If you have a long-term illness or you’re disabled, you may not have to pay VAT when you buy any of the following items:

  • adjustable beds, chair lifts, hoists and sanitary devices
  • auditory training aids
  • low vision aids
  • medical and surgical appliances designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or a severe injury
  • alarms
  • motor vehicles, boats and other equipment and appliances designed solely for use by chronically sick or disabled people
  • This VAT relief also applies to charges made for the installation, repair and maintenance of these items, or on any spare parts and accessories needed for them. Certain building work may also be VAT free. This includes building work on:

  • ramps, doorways and passages
  • bathrooms, washrooms and lavatories
  • lifts
  • If you need to have any general purpose goods adapted for your use, because of your condition, anything you pay to have them adapted will be VAT free, but you’ll still have to pay the normal rate of VAT on the goods themselves. Also, if you’re over 60, then you may not have to pay the full standard rate of VAT if you get certain mobility aids installed in your home.

    Who may be eligible for Zero-Rated VAT products or services

    You’ll only be able to buy goods and services without VAT if you are chronically sick or disabled and you are buying them for your own personal or domestic use.

    For VAT purposes, you have a long-term illness or you’re disabled if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • you have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect upon your ability to carry out everyday activities
  • you have a condition that the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness, such as diabetes
  • you are terminally ill
  • So, you won’t qualify if you are elderly but otherwise able-bodied, or if you’re only temporarily disabled or incapacitated. You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.
    Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.

    General VAT information

    Not all companies have to charge VAT so don’t assume that if a company says they don’t charge VAT then don’t assume they are doing something illegal. However if anyone supplies goods or services that are VAT chargeable and sell more than £77,000 of goods or services in a year then they should have VAT charged on them and the person or business needs to be VAT registered. People or businesses under the £77,000 threshold can still register for VAT and charge VAT. In any case if VAT is charged it must be paid to HMRC by the person or company charging VAT. If you are concerned about a company and VAT it may be worth reading more detailed information on the HM Revenue & Customs Website and by calling the Customs Hotline on 0800 595 000.

    Further Reading

    VAT is managed by HM Revenue & Customs

    Information on Equipment and vehicles for disabled people that might be free of VAT from HMRC

    Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people