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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Other local authority activities: miscellaneous (N to Z): Trolleys (abandoned)

Local authorities are empowered under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 99 and Schedule 4) to seize, remove, store, and return or dispose of shopping and luggage trolleys that appear to be abandoned.

The legislation sets out how local authorities should exercise this power and the costs they can charge onto the owners of the trolleys.

Any income the local authorities receive from such charges is outside the scope of VAT.  Any VAT the local authorities incur carrying out this activity can be refunded under section 33 of the VAT Act 1994.


HMRC has seen no evidence that not taxing local authorities in this area would lead to a distortion of competition. HMRC will review this position should a case be made that there is a distortion of competition on account of VAT.

Any taxpayer contending that its business is affected adversely by this policy should submit a detailed case outlining why this is so. The matter should then be referred to Indirect Tax Directorate through the normal process via the Unit of Expertise.