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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

Alarm call systems [Items 19 and 20]: emergency alarm call systems [Item 19]

The supply of an emergency alarm call system can be zero-rated provided that:

  • the supply is either to a disabled person for domestic or personal use or to an eligible charity which intends to make the goods available to disabled persons by sale or otherwise for domestic or their personal use - see VRDP05200;
  • the alarm system is designed to be capable of operation by a disabled person - see VRDP03100; and
  • the system allows that person to alert directly a specified person or control centre - see VRDP08200.

The relief under this item is intended for alarm systems designed to be capable of operation by disabled people if they require immediate assistance in the case of illness, injury or similar emergency.

Are all emergency alarm systems eligible for VAT relief?

To qualify for zero-rating, the alarm system must:

  • have some special operational feature, or functions specific to the needs of the disabled person such as a pendant worn around the neck, with a button that can be pressed as an emergency buzzer; and
  • link the caller to either a control centre which holds information on the disabled person and can therefore offer help in the event of an emergency, or to other specified persons such as relatives, friends or neighbours.

The following systems are not eligible for zero-rating:

  • telephone lines, even if installed purely to service a community alarm system, cannot be regarded for VAT purposes as an alarm system; and
  • a system such as AA Callsafe which, whilst designed for car users in the event of a car accident or breakdown, does not retain any information about specific disabled people.

The zero rate relief under item 19 does not extend to specialist emergency services for the general public, even if they may benefit a disabled person.

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Is an emergency alarm system used by an elderly person eligible for zero-rating?

Many elderly people will undoubtedly have need of these alarm systems, but the law does not allow the supply to them to be zero-rated unless they are also disabled.