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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

Adjustable beds [item 2(b)]: what is a ‘bed’?

The question of what comprises a bed was addressed in the Tribunal case Back In Health Ltd (10003). The appellant appealed against a decision that certain of their products did not qualify for zero-rating under item 2. Two of the products were:

  • The Kenko Patto Magnetic Mattress (KPMM) - a mattress giving a gentle massage of the muscles, enhancing blood circulation; and
  • The Kenko Makura Magnetic Pillow (KMMP) prevents the weight of the head sinking into the pillow, regulating heat loss from the body, and thereby keeping the head cool and the feet warm.

Both products were targeted at people with medical problems, including disabled and chronically sick people, but were also available on the open market for anyone to purchase. The appellant contended that both the KPMM and KMMP came within item 2(b), claiming that although described as a mattress, the KPMM was in reality an electrically adjustable bed designed for invalids and that, in its ordinary sense ‘bed’ can include ‘mattress’. In dismissing the appeal the Tribunal agreed with the Commissioners that for the purposes of the law a distinction had to be made between ‘bed’ which is furniture and ‘mattress’ which is a stuffed or padded item. Therefore neither the mattress nor the pillow came within item 2(b).