What are the different levels of VAT?
VAT (Value Added Tax) is charged at 20% on most goods and services, but some things have no VAT or are charged at a reduced rate to people who can show that they qualify for the discount.
Some items (such as many basic foods) don’t have VAT charged on them, so everyone who buys food automatically benefits. But to obtain a reduction in VAT (and therefore the cost) of some goods you have to prove you’re entitled to the relief.
Who is eligible for zero-rated goods and services?
To be eligible you have to demonstrate that you’re ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and be buying the goods and services for your own personal use. This will only apply to those purchases that aren't already subject to VAT relief.
You don’t need to receive state benefits to be ‘disabled’ for VAT purposes, although receipt of disability-related benefits may help you to prove more easily that you qualify for VAT relief.
What are the reliefs for disabled people?
Disabled people generally can obtain the following items free of VAT.
Cars and boats: the purchase or lease of an adapted vehicle, or the cost of making adaptations (provided the adaptations are carried out when you purchase it). There are some restrictions on what qualifies and further changes in the law are planned, which will restrict the extent to which zero-rating will be available.
Alterations to your home: some adaptations and building work to meet the needs of your disability, such as for ramps, widening of doorways and installing a lift or toilet.
Other equipment: a range of goods if they are specially designed to help with a disability, such as:
- adjustable beds
- stair lifts
- medical appliances to help with severe injuries
- braille paper or low vision aids (but not glasses nor contact lenses).
What are the reliefs for people aged 60 or over?
Certain products that increase the mobility of people aged 60 or over can be bought at a reduced VAT rate of 5% when installed into a home occupied by someone of that age. These include:
- grab rails
- bath lifts
- built-in shower seats or showers containing built-in shower seats
- walk-in baths with sealable doors.
If purchasing any of the items, make sure you ask your supplier to apply the reduced rate of VAT if you are eligible. Note, however, that the reduced rate has to be applied by the supplier and installer – you aren’t able to get the reduced rate if you buy the mobility aids and install them yourself.
If purchasing any of the items, make sure you ask your supplier to apply the reduced rate of VAT if you are eligible.
You should note that not all suppliers pass on the full, or indeed any, benefit of the rate reduction (and strictly speaking, they don’t have to), so it may be important to shop around.
Read more about reliefs from VAT for older and disabled people on gov.uk.
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