VAT relief on mobility batteries

Hi everyone, 

I wanted to ask for your experiences when buying a battery for a mobility scooter/powered wheelchair and trying to claim VAT back. 

I’ve just bought a replacement battery which is designed specifically for the scooter I have. It’s in a box so can’t be easily put into a different device. It’s clearly for use in a mobility device, and is being purchased for that intent. 

As the battery was very expensive, I tried to claim VAT back, but was told that I couldn’t do this for batteries as they could be ‘repurposed’. I find that argument a bit woolly! I could repurpose my toilet frame if I really wanted to! 

Anyway, I really want some opinions/advice on getting VAT back on batteries. Any success stories? Any horror stories? 

P.s This is a well known mobility company I’m dealing with. 
Roadkill: £0
£2015 in 2015: 0/£2015

Total debt: £5028
Total paid: £0

Replies

  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    A product is either eligible for VAT exemption or it's not, is not up to the retailer to decide (but it's up to them to check and get it right). It's based on the design of the product.

    What HMRC means by ‘designed solely for disabled people’

    This means that the original intention of the product’s designer was to produce an appliance or equipment solely to meet the needs of people with one or more disability.

    You cannot buy goods that are designed for use by disabled and non-disabled people alike VAT-free. Goods that are bought to be used by or that are mainly bought by disabled people cannot be bought without VAT unless they’re designed solely for use by disabled people.

    For example, general purpose equipment such as an air conditioning device, a reclining chair or an orthopaedic bed might benefit a disabled person but cannot be bought VAT-free because they’re not designed solely for use by a disabled person.

    Who decides if something is ‘designed solely for disabled people’

    Your retailer or other supplier is responsible for charging the correct amount of VAT on anything they sell. They should check with the manufacturer that the goods have been designed solely for use by disabled people before agreeing to sell any goods VAT-free.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-relief-on-certain-goods-if-you-have-a-disability#goods-you-can-buy-vat-free

    A bit more digging, and it seems like it may depend on the actual battery itself.

    4.9 Parts and accessories

    You can zero rate parts and accessories which you supply to an eligible customer as defined in paragraph 3.1. This is as long as the parts and accessories were designed solely for use in or with goods which themselves qualify for VAT relief as described elsewhere in this section.

    ‘Parts’ means integral components without which the equipment is incomplete.

    ‘Accessories’ means optional extras which can be used to improve the operation of the equipment, or enable it to be used, or to be used to better affect, in particular circumstances.

    VAT relief does not apply to the separate supply of general use items such as standard batteries, even if these were bought to be used within an item which is eligible for VAT relief such as a mobility scooter. But if the batteries were solely designed to operate within the eligible item, they would be eligible for relief such as batteries designed solely to be used with electric wheelchairs or mobility scooters. See paragraph 5.5.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reliefs-from-vat-for-disabled-and-older-people-notice-7017#goodseligible

    So the question is, sold as it is, could this particular battery box be used in anything other than that mobility scooter? E.g. in a golf buggy? If you're not sure and want to be absolutely certain, contact the manufacturer and ask (because they're the ones that should know for definite). The answer to that will determine whether your battery is eligible for VAT relief. It may be that the retailer knows it can be used in something else and therefore is not eligible, but in that case their answer should have been clearer because it doesn't sound like a particularly definitive answer based on the law!
  • Who did you try and claim the VAT from? the supplier? have you spoke to HMRC?
  • quaveringquavering Forumite
    31 Posts
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    Thanks both, 

    After a bit of to and fro with the company they agreed that the battery was designed and intended for use in a narrow range of mobility scooters (it’s contained within a case, so can’t be used in any other device in the format it’s sold). They said the exemption applied to lithium batteries.  

    They sent me the VAT exemption form and I have saved £90! 

    I also asked them to add a VAT exemption note to the website. The battery is very expensive, and obviously a purchase you need to make from time to time to keep able to use the scooter. I wonder how many people have paid the VAT without knowing they are eligible for an exemption, or tried to claim and been refused. 

    Anyway, thanks for your help. And hopefully this will help others who find themselves in the same situation. 
    Roadkill: £0
    £2015 in 2015: 0/£2015

    Total debt: £5028
    Total paid: £0
  • 50Twuncle50Twuncle Forumite
    10.8K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    a MOBILITY SCOOTER battery is zero VAT rated as long as it is fitted by a supplier - not cash and carry !
  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    1,000 Posts Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    Forumite
    50Twuncle said:
    a MOBILITY SCOOTER battery is zero VAT rated as long as it is fitted by a supplier - not cash and carry !
    That's correct but not the entire explanation.

    If it is specifically designed for use by disabled people then it is VAT-exempt for eligible customers whether it's simply supplied or fitted as well.

    If it not otherwise VAT-exempt (e.g. a battery that would also fit a golf buggy) then if it is fitted as part of a VAT-exempt service - maintenance by a supplier, perhaps - then it can be zero-rated.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reliefs-from-vat-for-disabled-and-older-people-notice-7017#goods-provided-course-adaptation-repair-maintenance

    5.5 Goods provided in the course of adaptation or repair and maintenance services

    Excluding the goods being adapted, you can zero rate any goods that you necessarily supply in the course of a supply of adaptation or repair and maintenance, where these services qualify for VAT relief as explained in paragraph 5.2 and paragraph 5.4.

    For example, a general purpose battery may be zero-rated when supplied as part of a wider service of repair and maintenance of a zero-rated mobility scooter. But zero rating will not apply when a general purpose battery is simply supplied to a disabled person. In such circumstances, the main supply is not one of repair and maintenance but a supply of a standard-rated product.

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