VAT exemption

Hi, I’m ayjay - (Alexander John), my wife has secondary progressive MS and up to last autumn was able to walk a maximum of a half mile - last November she had Shingles which had an immediate and drastic effect on the MS such that she couldn’t walk at all unaided, eight months on and she has Post Herpatic Neuralgia and nothing has improved as far as walking is concerned.

She now has a mobility scooter which allows us to get out together (bird butterfly and dragonfly watching and photographing) she also sometimes uses a wheelchair and at other times a simple walking frame.

We have a reasonably large estate car which can either hold the scooter, or the wheelchair and the walking frame but not all three - to be honest with the scooter (and ramps) in the back I struggle to get the weeks shopping distributed around it. A holiday at the moment would be out of the question as we’d need all three plus space for luggage etc.

To solve the problem we are currently looking for a van which will give us the the required space. Vans from dealers are subject to VAT and with a purchase price approaching £10k I’d rather not have another 20% added on top.

I’ve read as much as I can on the subject on the HMRC website regarding VAT exemption for vehicle purchases (until my head is spinning) and it seems to say that there must be some sort of adaption to the vehicle to qualify for VAT exemption.

Can anyone here confirm or deny this or put me on the right path to saving some of my hard-earned cash?

Thank you.

Evening, sorry don’t know. I shined chit try when buying scooter so didn’t pay VAT, but am not aware of cars/vans. May I suggest you speak to either Motability or a the motobility specialist at a reputable dealer. Good luck

That was ‘signed chitty’, not whatever came up…funny x

Thanks Slug; yes, we had the same deal with the scooter but the van is a bit different from what I can make of the rules according to HMRC.

I’ll try asking my nearest Mobility dealer (although she doesn’t qualify for the Mobility Allowance).

Hi yes you can get VAT exemption. I found the leaflet when i googled, but i already knew you could even with a light van.

I will send you the link AJ by pm.

Also why does she need all these items?

I have an electric wheelchair (small type) which does everything. I bought it but cant use it as my husband has COPD and cant even lift it even though its light weight. I am going to sell that.

Then i have a very small scooter which i bought off Ebay for 60.00. It folds. The front comes off. The seat folds like a pushchair. Its fab. It does about 4miles an hour lol even light as it is. My friend borrowed it for her holiday and it just folded into her boot of the car.

Anyway i will send you the link about VAT exemption. x

Oh I meant to say as your wife’s MS has changed can you not apply for the mobility component now?

I must admit when i got shingles it did impact my illness. I know your only supposed to get it once but i still get it mildy every now and then…wonder if its just because my nervous system is comprimised.

Thanks Goldengirl, my wife uses a walking frame around the house, the scooter is for regular trips out into the New Forest or along the sea wall nearby, she is not particularly confident about using the scooter in confined spaces (it’s probably for the best) and so we usually use the wheelchair if we got out for a meal or a hospital appointment or anything similar.

She did have a small scooter which comes apart and will go in the boot of the car but it has no suspension and even on relatively smooth gravel tracks (about the roughest terrain it can handle) it jars her body enough to be painful, the larger scooter has suspension and is therefore much more comfortble as well as being designed to be used on rougher terrain.

They all serve different purposes and certainly if we went away on holiday she would need all three items.

Looking at the link that you sent me via pm, it’s one I had seen before but it appears to only apply to vehicles which have been adapted in some way - we don’t need any adaptions to a vehicle just more space - in fact I’d much rather not have to change the vehicle, the only reason for changing it is because of my wife’s disability but I cant see clearly where the form says that that is allowed. I can conclude and deduce from certain parts of the form that it might be allowed but it really isn’t clear particularly when you look at the title of the form :- “About purchasing zero-rated adapted vehicles”

I don’t think that my wife is eligiblle for any Mobility benefits - she currently receives Attendance Allowance (since having Shingles) and that’s all. ( I also got a Carers allowance for a few weeks but no longer get it since qualifying for my state pension).

I think the mobility component you’re referring to is part of DLA, which she doesn’t qualify for due to her date of birth being after 8/4/48.


My understanding (and I’m in know way an expert) is that we can qualify for VAT relief if the product in question is needed because of disability. In the case of car adaptations, it’s easy to prove that it’s for a disability. The tricky thing in your case then, is to be able to prove that the extra space is needed because of your wife’s disability. How you go about proving that though, or who makes the final decision, I couldn’t say. You might be better off phoning HMRC to put your question directly to them, rather than trying to trawl through whatever written stuff they have on their website. I’d be interested to know the outcome though.


Well you can adapt the van to carry the items surely. By simply fitting a lift to enable you to lift the items into the back of the van. As long as its ADAPTED for disability is how i read it.

Another thing you can think about AJ is when I have been on holiday for example i went to minehead. We contacted their local mobility shop and we hired a scooter from them, which meant I could just take my manual wheelchair.

Has she tried an electrical wheelchair for out? Mine goes out, its more of a powerchair, and can go out on pavement, and into shops.

I would say adaption simply means any vehichle adapted for disabled purpose is how i would read it.

Ah right i wasnt aware she was slightly older then me, you come over younger lol. x

Hi Dan i think AJ did and they gave a vague answer lol.

I’ve not spoken to HMRC yet, but I think it’s the best way forward. I can’t be the first person to need a larger vehicle to accomodate all the paraphernalia required in these circumstances.

I already have a cunning plan which will bring the extra expense down to about 5% or less (instead of 20%) if the thinking is not in my favour.

I finally had a chance to phone the VAT people yesterday (I thought I was supposed to be retired!) and after a 15 minute hold I was eventually put through to someone with a strong scouse accent which I could barely understand.

I’d have to say that they were not particularly sympathetic to my problem nor interested in my interpretaions of their forms/rules.

The upshot of it all as far as he was concerned is that there has to be an adaption made to the vehicle which is solely because of my wife’s condition.

The simple option for me now is to buy the cheapest second hand wheelchair hoist I can find on eBay and have it fitted, the hoist will cost about £50 - £100 - fitting can’t cost much more - and may even be negotiable as free with the purchase - with the VAT likely to be about £2000 it’s a no brainer really.

I will probably never use the hoist, although I could lash out a bit more, say £300, and get a scooter hoist which I probably would use - it’ll save the space that the ramps take up and may actually be useful as I get older and possibly less physically capable myself.

For anyone else who may go down this route, the hoist has to be fitted before purchase as the seller has to fill out a form describing the adaptions made to the vehicle.