In many situations providing equipment or services for the purposes of the disabled can be zero rated for VAT. For charities, such as Housing Associations, who do not have the capability of claiming back VAT, this knowledge can directly reduce the cost of capital expenditure.
The facility to zero rate disabled goods and services has been in place since 1994. Since the introduction of legislation protecting persons with disability, namely The Disabled Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 which was replaced by The Equality Act in October 2010, the purchase of disabled access equipment has increased.
Goods and services relevant to the lift industry are as follows:
Goods and services are eligible for zero rating where they are provided to an individual or series of individuals who are classed as disabled persons.
An ordinary vertical lift can be zero rated if the lift is installed in a private residence or for a Housing Association where a lift provided is for the purposes of facilitating movement of disabled persons between floors.
VAT relief is not available for a general needs accommodation where the lift is not solely designed for specific disabled residences. VAT relief is also not applicable for the supply of goods or services associated with a business.
It is recommended that the lift supplier obtains a written declaration from the charity stating that the goods or services are supplied for the specific need of disabled residents within a building. An example pro-forma declaration is given in HM Revenue and Customs Notice 701/7.
The meaning of designed for sole use by disabled persons means that it is the intention of the designer to supply the goods or services solely for the need of disabled persons.
Where goods are supplied zero rated for VAT the maintenance and repair of the disabled product can also be zero rated.
Any necessary building and construction work associated with a qualifying disabled product can also be zero rated. This could be as simple as applying a ramp to a building or more comprehensive construction of a liftwell for a new passenger lift.
Under current legislation, The Equality Act 2010, building owners and managers need to make all buildings accessible to persons with disability and therefore modifications to an existing lift specifically and solely for the purposes of the disabled are eligible.
Charities such as Housing Associations do not need to claim a refund rather they can have the goods or services zero rated for VAT at source. The zero rating should be agreed with the lift company prior to the contract being put in place.
The lift company is responsible for deciding whether VAT is applicable or not. It is not in the interest of the lift supplier to go through this process as it can complicate their accounting system. The lift consultant working with the Housing Association can help with this process.
If there is any doubt on whether goods or services are eligible for zero rating the lift contractor can gain written confirmation from HM Revenue and Customs.
Further information is available from HM Revenue and Customs Notice 701/7 December 2014.
Any advice in this article is based on current notices by the Revenue and Customs and can be subject to change at a later date.
Zero rating needs to be confirmed by both the purchaser and lift contractor.
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