V16.841 Charities—supply, repair and maintenance of relevant goods (including adapted motor vehicles)
VAT Information Sheet 8/98, June 1998
This information sheet is aimed at charitable institutions who purchase, and businesses who supply relevant goods, including adapted motor vehicles. It sets out when a charitable institution is entitled to purchase, maintain and repair relevant goods at the zero rate of VAT, and what documentation must be produced and retained to demonstrate that the goods or services qualify for the relief.
1.1 What is the legal background?
Since 1981, VAT law has allowed a “charitable institution providing care or medical or surgical treatment for handicapped persons” to purchase a specified range of “relevant goods” (including motor vehicles adapted for the use of disabled people) at the zero rate. This legislation was intended to apply only to certain types of charities but its scope was extended beyond its original intention by decisions of the VAT tribunal and the High Court. In these cases, it was held that providing suitable accommodation; providing for daily needs (not further defined by the court); and providing a secure environment, all constituted the provision of care. If Customs had accepted this then the relief would have been extended to virtually any charity which provided any service in a caring manner and had amongst its clientele a minimal number of disabled people. Legislation was therefore introduced in the 1996 Budget to ensure that zero-rating did not extend beyond its original intention.
After the legislation was introduced, it became apparent that it excluded