Find out if you can get VAT relief if you're having building work done in your home related to your disability.
If you’re having building work done to your home related to your disability find out:
- how VAT relief works
- which building work can be VAT-free
- what HMRC means by ‘disabled’ and who qualifies for VAT-free building work
- how to prove that you qualify for VAT-free building work
- what to do if you think you’ve paid too much VAT
- the reduced rate VAT on mobility aids for older people
- how to contact HMRC for more information
How VAT relief works
This is not a VAT refund system and there is no facility for HMRC to refund VAT to you if you’re entitled to VAT-free building work.
If you’re entitled to VAT-free building work your supplier will not charge you VAT.
Building work that can be VAT-free
This section has information on the building work that can be VAT-free in your home, for example:
- ramps, doorways and passages
- bathrooms, washrooms and lavatories
- installation or repair and maintenance of lifts
- preparation or restoration work
‘Your home’ means your private residence, that’s the place where you normally live. This can be the home of a close relative if you normally live there. ‘Your home’ includes your garden and any outbuildings.
Ramps, doorways and passages
You’ll not have to pay VAT if you’re having a ramp built in or into your home because of your disability. This does not include lowering the level of a doorway threshold or replacement floor coverings.
You’ll not have to pay VAT if you’re having a doorway or passage widened because of your disability. This includes widening an existing:
- doorway or widening an existing passage or room through which you pass to go into another room
- path across your garden
It does not include having a completely new doorway, passage or room put in where there was not one before, replacing a window with a door or having a new path or vehicle driveway constructed.
Bathrooms, washrooms and lavatories
You’ll not have to pay VAT if you’re having a new bathroom, washroom or lavatory installed or an existing bathroom, washroom or lavatory, extended or adapted if the work’s being done to help you because of your disability.
- having a bath removed and replaced with a shower or walk-in bath if, because of your disability, you have difficulty getting in and out of a traditional bath
- having a bathroom installed on the ground floor if, because of your disability, you’re not able to get upstairs
- altering an existing bathroom to allow wheelchair access around the room
It does not include having a new bathroom installed or existing bathroom re-fitted, repaired or redecorated as a general home improvement.
Installation or repair and maintenance of lifts
You’ll not have to pay VAT if you’re having a lift installed to help you move between floors of your home because of your disability. The VAT relief also includes the repair and maintenance of the lift.
Preparation or restoration work
You’ll not have to pay VAT on any necessary preparation or restoration work if it’s directly related to the VAT-free work.
For example if:
- you have a doorway widened the supply and fitting of a wider door frame and door, removal of the bricks and mortar and the restoration of the damaged decor can all be VAT-free
- you’re having your bathroom adapted to install a walk-in shower, the replacement of any porcelain goods that need taking out as a result of the new installation and any necessary re-tiling can be VAT-free
- you have an extension to provide a downstairs bathroom, the VAT-free work can include the preparation of footings (including ground levelling), connection to services (water, gas, electricity and drainage) and the restoration of the immediate decor
Building materials and goods
Building materials that are used as part of the eligible work will also be VAT-free if you pay for a professional contractor (builder, plumber or other trade) to do the work.
VAT-registered contractors will pay VAT on the materials they buy and they can reclaim this VAT back from HMRC in the normal way. Your building contractor’s supply of the materials to you will be VAT-free.
Contractors who are not VAT registered cannot reclaim the VAT on the materials they buy.
Instead, they can help you arrange for the materials to be supplied VAT-free direct to you from a VAT-registered supplier. You’ll need to give the VAT-registered supplier of the goods (for example, a builders’ merchant or DIY store) a copy of your eligibility declaration and evidence from your contractor that you’re paying them to do the eligible work for you.
If you do the work yourself or a friend, neighbour or member of your family does the work for you free of charge the materials cannot be bought VAT-free.
You’ll not have to pay VAT if you buy any fittings that are designed solely for disabled people. For more information, see VAT relief on certain goods if you have a disability.
Building work that is not VAT-free
VAT-free building work for disabled people is limited to the work listed. Any other work you’re having done, even if it’s being done because of your disability, cannot be done VAT-free. Work that is not eligible for relief includes:
- the construction of a downstairs bedroom or adaptation of an existing room to form a bedroom
- the installation or upgrade of a domestic heating system, for example, boilers and radiators
- replacement windows
- the refitting of a kitchen
- the extension or adaptation of the property to provide a conservatory, carer’s room, office or living room
Qualifying for VAT-free building work
You’ll only be able to have eligible building work VAT-free if you’re chronically sick or disabled and the building work’s being done in your own home. You do not need to be registered disabled or eligible for any other benefit to qualify for VAT-free building work but you must be chronically sick or disabled.
What HMRC mean by ‘chronically sick or disabled’
For VAT purposes, you’re chronically sick or disabled if you have a:
- physical or mental impairment which has a long term and substantial adverse effect upon your ability to carry out everyday activities
- condition which the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness (that’s a longterm health condition)
For VAT purposes, the term ‘chronically sick or disabled’ does not include a person who’s only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, for example, with a broken limb or someone who’s elderly but is not chronically sick or disabled.
You do not need HMRC’s permission to declare that you’re disabled or chronically sick and our advisers cannot tell you whether or not you’re disabled or chronically sick. If you’re not sure whether your condition means you’re chronically sick or disabled you may wish to consult your doctor or other medical adviser.
How to prove that you qualify for VAT-free building work
To demonstrate that you’re entitled to have the work done VAT-free your supplier will probably ask you for a simple written declaration stating your eligibility. If the supplier does not provide you with a form to fill in you can use our suggested version.
You’ll need to provide a separate declaration for each supplier for them to keep with their VAT records.
Do not send completed declarations to HMRC.
What to do if you think you’ve paid too much VAT
If you think that you meet all the conditions for VAT-free building work but have been incorrectly charged VAT you should ask your supplier for a refund. There’s no facility for HMRC to refund VAT to you.
If your supplier is not sure how to do this they can contact HMRC for advice. Our helpline advisers can give advice in cases of uncertainty but cannot intervene in disputes between customers and suppliers.
Reduced rate VAT on mobility aids for older people
If you’re over 60 but not disabled or chronically sick, then you may not have to pay the full standard rate of VAT if you get certain mobility aids installed in your home. Instead, you’ll pay a much reduced rate, currently 5% on grab rails, ramps, stair lifts, bath lifts, built-in shower seats or showers containing built-in shower seats and walk-in baths with sealable doors. For more information see VAT relief on the installation of certain mobility aids if you’re 60 or over.