Many people do not know that they can make significant savings on certain kinds of products by either being exempt from VAT, or entitled to a reduced rate of VAT.
Those with a disability or long-term illness are allowed to make some purchases free from VAT (such as a Quingo mobility scooter) and if you are not disabled or suffering from a long term illness those over 60 can get a reduced rate of 5% instead of the standard rate of 20%.
We discuss this later on in this article.
Eligible items are restricted to your own personal domestic use, so you cannot claim exemption if the purchase is being made for a group of people.
You cannot claim exemption if you condition is temporary, such as a broken limb and you cannot claim if you are elderly or frail but not disabled in any other way. You can however claim if you are buying the item for the personal use of another, such as a child, parent or partner.
The product must be exclusively designed for use by the disabled.
So what type of products qualify?
A wheelchair, access ramp, hoist for a scooter or a converted car are obvious examples, but certain types of building work also qualify as long as they are specifically adapting the property to the needs of the disabled person in occupation. Some products are not so obvious and in this case it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to prove this to the satisfaction of HMRC.
It is important to remember that you must make any claim for exemption before you make your purchase and then the supplier of the items will remove the VAT from the price. If the supplier is familiar with the process, such as a specialist online retailer or mobility product supplier, then this will probably be achieved by completing and signing a form that states you are eligible and they will provide guidance in filling the form out. At Quingo all our representatives are fully trained to help you achieve your exemption!
Exemption can be a bit more tricky to get on the High Street as guidelines from the HRMC sometimes make it difficult to judge what products are eligible and which are not. It is left to the retailer to make the decision and they are responsible for making the choice so they are likely to err on the side of caution.
Any repairs to zero rated equipment and purchases are eligible for the exemption as well so make sure you claim for them as well!
You can download a blank claim form here
Reduced Rate VAT for Over-60s
If you are not disabled, and therefore not eligible for the zero rated VAT purchase of mobility aids, you are still eligible to claim for the rate of VAT to be reduced from 20% to 5% on mobility equipment to be installed in your private residence that you occupy on your own or share with others such as friends, partners or relatives. You do not have to pay for the equipment yourself.
These are the items to which the reduced rate VAT can be applied, but please note that you need to have them installed – supply only does not qualify for the reduction:
• grab rails
• bath lifts
• built-in shower seats, or showers containing built-in shower seats
• walk-in baths with sealable doors
Repairs and replacements that may be required after the installation has been carried out are not eligible for the reduced rate so you cannot claim for this.
The reduced rate is not applicable for building alterations carried out to your property such as extensions, ramps or widening corridors and doorways.
When you buy any equipment that is eligible for the reduced rate the supplier should know about it and automatically apply the reduced rate, but you will need to prove that you qualify with a written declaration. The supplier may have a form for you to complete but you can also download the relevant form here
The declaration must be separate from any invoice, order or other paperwork.
If you can’t physically complete and sign this yourself, then a declaration by a relative, partner or other responsible person is acceptable.