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HMRC internal manual

VAT Charities

Talking books


The relief under Schedule 8 Group 4 is for talking books for blind and disabled people, and wireless sets for blind people. It is very specific both in terms of what it covers and who is eligible to claim it.

Relief available under Item 1

This covers talking books for blind and disabled people. The relief covers certain supplies made by bodies such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, the National Listening Library and other similar charities.

The relief is restricted to the use of magnetic tapes, which excludes the relief being applied to modern methods of recording, such as digital methods. This means that the user’s equipment must also be capable of using magnetic tapes.

The limitation of the relief has caused problems, as bodies looking to update their equipment have found that they do not qualify for relief under Group 4. However, if new equipment has been designed solely for use by disabled people relief may be available under Item 2 to Group 12 of Schedule 8. For more guidance see V1-07, Chapter 12 VAT reliefs for disabled people.

Relief available under Item 2

This covers supplies of designed or specially adapted wireless receiving sets or apparatus solely for the making and reproduction of a sound recording on a magnetic tape contained in a cassette to charities who will loan the equipment to blind people free of charge.

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Meaning of “designed or specially adapted”

Unfortunately, there are no precise meanings within the law for the term “designed or specially adapted for the blind or severely handicapped”. On this basis we can only accept magnetic tapes and related apparatus for playing them as qualifying for the relief under Group 4 of Schedule 8 if they have Braille markings or other specific adaptations on them. However, if relief is not available under Group 4 it is possible that the equipment will qualify for relief under Group 12 as being designed solely for disabled people. For more guidance see V1-07, Chapter 12 VAT reliefs for disabled people.

The relief does not apply to spoken word cassettes sold in bookshops, nor does it apply to ordinary cassette players.