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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Overbed tables

Is there VAT relief for overbed tables?

This type of equipment is frequently used in hospitals, because of its adjustable facility. It is designed for use by hospital patients in general and not just those who are chronically sick or disabled. Overbed tables cannot be said to be ‘designed solely for use by a handicapped person’ and do not qualify for relief under item 2(g) - see VRDP05100.

Princess Louise Scottish Hospital (1412)

The Tribunal considered the VAT treatment of an overbed table. The advertising literature described the overbed tables a ‘flo-top overbed table’ of cantilever design similar to that which can be purchased in stores for household use, but with the main distinguishing feature that the height is adjustable upwards or downwards at a touch and will move upwards with the adjustable bed when it is pumped up. The table was clearly of assistance to, and used by, chronically sick and disabled people, but nevertheless, did not qualify for zero-rating. In giving the decision, the Tribunal Chairman said:

“We are of the opinion that the particular value of the table to the chronically disabled is by no means sufficient to enable us to infer that the table was solely designed for them, and an inspection of the table produced by the appellants confirms our view. We asked ourselves; does the appearance and the method of operation of this table suggest to us, using the words in their ordinary and natural meaning, that it was designed ‘solely for use’ by a chronically disabled person? We can only say that the table struck us as eminently practical and convenient for all sorts of hospital patients and was not designed with a particular class in mind.”

Goods designed for use in hospitals

The Tribunal decision mentioned in Princess Louise Scottish Hospital (1412) (above) is helpful in considering goods designed for use in hospitals.