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Thread: Mild panic re. VAT exemption

  1. #1

    Default Mild panic re. VAT exemption

    Perhaps someone can give me some wisdom on this...

    When you buy adult nappies from a mobility store, they often ask if you'd like to sign a VAT exemption form and therefore get the product without VAT...i.e. cheaper. Now, if there was an incontinence issue, then this would make perfect sense. But, as I am buying for emotional/psychological reasons, I feel it would be dishonest to sign for this exemption. So, today, when I was buying nappies and I was asked whether I would like to sign this form, I said I didn't have VAT exemption, to which the cashier explained that all incontinence products could be VAT exempt because it is for incontinence, and that allows exemption. It would have been pretty difficult to get around this one without signing the form, which I did, leaving my name, address and signature. I played dumb and said, 'Ohh, I thought it was some sort of NHS exemption thing, oh right ok, that's great then...' And I bought the nappies at the VAT exempt price.


    1. Did I do anything fraudulent?
    2. Will they be able to check whether there is a medical need recorded to the name I provided? (Surely medical records are private?)
    3. If I buy from that shop again, what is likely to happen? Will I sign again? Will they become suspicious?

    I'm having a tiredness-induced paranoid moment I think!

  2. #2


    I think I'd have just said "I've got a thing about privacy. I'd just as soon not leave my name and address all over the place, even if it costs a little more...."

    I can hardly wait til the U.S. catches up to more progressive nations like the UK on health care and taxes....... NOT.

  3. #3


    That would have been a good idea. Thanks for that.

  4. #4


    I think you did what you had to do. Going into a long explanation as to why you were buying them would have been embarrassing and none of their business. Beside, if you're working, your taxes are more than paying for the little bit you get back. Don't feel guilty. As for checking up, I can't imagine that would happen. No one likes to do that much paper work.

  5. #5


    Another good point. Thanks.

  6. #6


    You need not worry about them accessing your medical records. It's impossible for anyone to do so without either your consent of power of attorney over you - DirectGov: Medical Records.

    So the shop isn't able to and won't check up on you and you haven't done anything fraudulent anyway; I believe that any private individual purchasing incontinence products (or one of the various other VAT exempt products) under a certain number to indicate individual use is entitled to the VAT exemption. The law doesn't specify that they must be purchased for medical need so you're doing nothing wrong and there's no need to do anything differently if you go there again - just say yes and get cheaper nappies.

  7. #7


    It might not be fraudulent, according to this source:

    Declaration forms used to bug me too until I started buying online. I managed to bluff my way out on a few occasions by spouting some nonsense about an overseas health authority funding the purchase as they were for a visiting relative. I think the shop staff were trying to be very helpful and insistent that I should get the best value for money, but of course it wasn't helpful at all as I wanted to pay the VAT and have a clear conscience.

    Then, when I first bought by 'phone, two sellers didn't mention the issue, the third said in passing 'because you're not buying more than 200 in one purchase they won't attract VAT'. Their online system apparently works like this:
    If you buy less than 200 disposables, 50 washables or 10 pairs waterproof pants in one purchase, for your own personal use, you will automatically be eligible for the exemption. You have to tick a box to claim it but you don't have to provide them with a declaration.
    If you buy more than this, you must complete a declaration before they will let you claim the exemption. In neither case do you need to be registered disabled to qualify, although it might still be incorrect for a non-disabled person to claim the exemption. The seller is obliged to make some attempt to verify the elegibility of the buyer, so perhaps they just try to make it as easy as possible without neglecting this duty.

    'Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people' might be the authoritative guide but of course it only refers to disabled people, so probably doesn't apply at all! You can get it at:

    Looking on the bright side, all of this hassle makes it even more satisfying when the nappies arrive...
    Last edited by Paxe; 09-Aug-2009 at 14:02. Reason: Hit return too early!

  8. #8


    As the shop I talk about sells Tena Slip (Super and Maxi) which are quality, I would like to return on a regular basis and although I'd like to save money each time, it's almost impossible to say, 'no thanks, these aren't for incontinence'!! And I don't want them to suss me out as not incontinent and by that time I've saved loads over the months and they then hate me. Well, I'm buying them for an emotional 'need' and (non-sexual)enjoyment, but that's still unlikely to be accepted.

    When I ordered from Tender-Care, I read through details about VAT exemption, including googling it and reading some government website. It said a very similar (or the same) thing, that if you are buying less than 200 etc, it is automatically VAT exempt. I was using an order form, so the first time I ordered I wrote a short note saying I am not usually VAT exempt, but was following the exemption guidelines of the site. I paid the reduced rate and that was that, they didn't seem to worry about it.

    It is confusing. I wish they were either VAT exempt or not. For example, if a man was to buy tampons, they wouldn't have him sign something to say the person they were buying it for really menstruated!!

  9. #9


    as i remember, there is no longer a requirement for retailers to collect personal information and incontinence products for personal use or for use by someone you tend to. i know some shops still go through the process, but that's mainly due to them managers/sales-persons not being fully aware of the change in VAT legislation.
    query them on it the next time you buy and they'll be flummoxed

  10. #10


    Hmm...that would explain the inconsistency. I'd really love to challenge them, but I fear it might lead to awkward questions.

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