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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

Invalid wheelchairs and carriages

What are the conditions for zero-rating?
What is an invalid wheelchair or carriage?
Is a mobility scooter an invalid carriage?
Is a mobility scooter “designed solely” for use by a disabled person?

What are the conditions for zero-rating?

In addition to the basic pre-conditions for zero-rating which must be satisfied (see VRDP05000), Legal Note (4)(b) (see VRDP05100) zero-rates invalid wheelchairs and carriages supplied to a disabled person. Further information can be found in ‘Notice 701/7 Reliefs for disabled people’.

What is an invalid wheelchair or carriage?

Invalid carriages are legally defined under The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, Section 20 which states:

Section 20

Subsection [2] - In this Section

“invalid carriage” means a vehicle, whether mechanically propelled or not, constructed or adapted for the carriage of one person, being a person suffering from some physical defect or disability”

The interpretation of invalid carriages are set out in the Highways Regulations SI 1988 No. 2268 and normally fall within three classes:

  • Class (1) - an invalid carriage which is not mechanically propelled, to all intents and purposes a wheelchair.
  • Class (2) - a mechanically propelled invalid carriage which is so constructed or adapted not to exceed 4mph. The vehicle is for use on the pavement and not adapted or intended for use on the road.
  • Class (3) - a mechanically propelled invalid carriage which is intended or adapted to exceed 4mph but not to exceed 8mph. The vehicle is intended and adapted for use on the road.

Do all three classes of vehicle qualify for zero-rating?

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Is a mobility scooter an invalid carriage?

Most mobility scooters and similar mobility vehicles are class 2 or class 3 invalid carriages. If you are unsure whether the particular vehicle qualifies:

Is a mobility scooter “designed solely” for use by a disabled person?

If a mobility scooter is excluded from qualifying for zero-rate by Note 5(G), you should consider whether it could be zero-rated under Item 2(g). See also VRDP03000.

In the Tribunal case, Leisure Karts (UK) Ltd (19403), the Tribunal agreed with the Commissioners of HM Revenue and Customs that the ‘All Terrain Mobility Scooter’ manufactured and supplied by the Appellant was not ‘designed solely’ for the disabled.

The company manufactured and supplied golf buggies marketed as the ‘Classic’. Over the winter period, there was an historical decrease in sales, therefore the Appellant designed the ‘mobility scooter’ and marketed it for disabled people to extend their range of products during the quiet periods. The word ‘disabled’, which could be an indication that the scooters were targeted at disabled people and any use by the able bodied would be incidental, did not appear anywhere in the appellant’s advertising literature.

The Tribunal concluded that:

“The adaptations, the fitting of clip on lights, the removal of the basket and fixing of a bracket for golf clubs, would be achieved in a matter of minutes. These additions do not alter the essential character or function of the vehicle and are not of use only to the disabled. What Mr Grafton designed could not therefore be said to have been designed solely for the disabled. His design, with minimal adaptation, was produced and marketed in two forms, only one of which Mr Grafton seeks to contend was for the disabled.”

“One has to look beyond the description to the vehicle itself, how it was used and how it was marketed. It was promoted as an all terrain vehicle, ideal for the more rugged and uneven surfaces of the countryside. It is certainly possible that the majority of sales of the Scooter will be to the disabled, but in our view, the Scooter would be highly attractive to a not insignificant number of people who are not disabled within the statutory definition in Group 12.”

“Mr Grafton has designed a scooter capable of travelling at speeds of up to eight miles per hour and adapted for use on and off the road. In its basic form, with the possible exception of the optional swivel seat, it has no features which are of use only to a disabled person. Equally, it has no features which would make it less useful to a person who was not disabled. Its purpose cannot therefore be said to be solely for the disabled.”