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HMRC internal manual

VAT Protective Equipment

Protective equipment: Protective boots and helmets for industrial use: What is the definition of industrial use?

Arguments have been put forward for the extension of our list of accepted numbers, to include other types of boots and helmets, on the grounds that their use is “industrial”; for example, jockey skullcaps. If faced with such arguments, you should bring out the following points:

  • the Department applies a strict normal day to day meaning to the words “industrial use”. This attitude is supported by legal precedent in other areas where the concept applied is that of how an ordinary and sensible person would define a word, not any dictionary definition;
  • under Purchase Tax, relief existed for certain types of protective boots and helmets. These reliefs were defined by the occupation of the wearer - for example miners or quarrymen. With the introduction of VAT, it was concluded that to limit the relief by occupation was impractical and it was decided to word the law as it stands today