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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Spa baths and walk-in baths

What is a spa bath?

These are a variety of baths which have air pumped through by means of a compressor. It is highly unlikely that they will be eligible for zero-rating under item 2(g) as being ‘designed solely for use by a handicapped person’.

Aquakraft Ltd (2214)

The Tribunal considered a spa bath called an ‘air bath’. This was a bath which pumped air through the water by means of a compressor. Usually, Aquakraft sold standard models to the public, but they also sold more sophisticated models to hospitals and nursing homes. These models were more robust and had additional features such as:

  • handrails,
  • provision for the fitting of a hoist; and
  • recessed taps for safety.

The manufacturer claimed zero-rating under item 2(g) only for these special models.

The appellant claimed that the special versions were specifically designed for use by disabled persons and produced papers to the Tribunal to demonstrate the benefits obtained from this type of bath; although the Department produced evidence to show that there was no scientific evidence that air baths had any therapeutic value. The Tribunal followed the line taken by previous Tribunals such as Princess Louise Scottish Hospital (VRDP30000) and concluded that the air bath was standard-rated because all kinds of hospital patients could be expected to use it.

Can a spa bath or walk-in bath be zero-rated?

There is VAT relief under item 10 for providing, extending or adapting a bathroom in a disabled person’s private residence - see paragraph VRDP11550. A spa bath or walk-in bath may be eligible for zero-rating under item 13 if supplied in connection with services under item 10 - see ‘Notice 701/7 Reliefs for disabled people’.