Disabled people are entitled to VAT relief on products and services designed solely for the use of people with disabilities.
VAT (Value Added tax) 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.
About VAT relief for disabled people
Disabled people do not 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 do not have to pay VAT are often referred to as ‘zero-rated’ or ‘eligible for VAT relief’.
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 either:
- have a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term and severe effect on their ability to carry out everyday activities
- have a condition that doctors treat as a chronic sickness – like diabetes, for example
- are terminally ill
A person with a temporary injury like a broken leg would not qualify, nor would a frail older person who is otherwise well and not disabled.
Products that are eligible for VAT relief
A product or service must be supplied for the ‘personal or domestic use’ of a chronically sick or disabled person to qualify for zero-rating.
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
Things not covered by this include:
- products used for business purposes
- products made widely available for a group of people to use
- products 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
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 do 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.
Leasing a vehicle or wheelchair under the Motability Scheme
Motability is a charity that provides vehicles and powered wheelchairs or scooters to disabled people. You don’t have to pay VAT when you lease a vehicle, wheelchair or scooter under the Motability Scheme.
Adaptations to your home
The work involved in some adaptations to disabled people’s homes is eligible for VAT relief.
The rules about adaptations to buildings and VAT are complex. You should always ask whether the adaptation work to your home will be eligible for VAT relief when you are hiring a builder or other tradesperson.
Hiring disability equipment
You do not have to pay VAT when you hire qualifying disability equipment. This applies to large equipment, like powered wheelchairs and hoists, and specialised equipment for people with specific disabilities.
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 do not have to pay VAT and then reclaim it from the government – it will be taken off the purchase price before you pay.
Vat Relief Form
Form for an Individual claiming VAT relief for products designed for people with disabilities: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-relief-on-certain-goods-if-you-have-a-disability
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:0300 123 1073
The helpline is open 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. It is closed at weekends and bank holidays.