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VAT and face coverings

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Hi all

Does anyone have a strong opinion on the VAT treatment of woven face masks they would like to share?  A few clients have now asked me if VAT should be added to the non-medical style of masks, as in the cloth ones designed to catch droplets and not the ones you would wear if you were around a Covid person.

My knee jerk reaction was that the new ZR'ing won't apply, as that isn't what it is intended to cover (it's for medical grade items, not someone on Etsy who has turned a bra inside out), but a search on the internet has left me less than certain of my stance and this has been further wobbled by my reading of the guidance.

VATHLT2021 item 63079010 mentions “Textile face-masks, without a replaceable filter or mechanical parts, including surgical masks and disposable face-masks made of knitted textiles; FFP2 and FFP3 face masks” which would suggest the fabric (textile) re-useable masks qualify; however all the guidance from Public Health England appears to limit face masks to non-woven surgical style masks, which seems to rule out the fabric style ones.

I asked HMRC via their email service and they said 'Dunno, ask PHE' (ok, so they actually said

"Please be kindly advised that it is not within the remit of the VAT Written Enquiries Team (VWET) to offer an opinion to what VAT liability an item may carry. VWET provide general advice and will refer an individual to the relevant guidance based on the information provided.

It would appear that you are referring to the relevant guidance found within out Health VAT manual which covers PPE. I would also refer you to the following guidance which can be located using the following link:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/revenue-and-customs-brief-4-2... As you are wanting to know if your item of PPE meets the condition, I would recommend contacting Public Health England directly, as we can only offer guidance."

PHE are not responding so far (and I suspect will say 'here is the list of what we consider to be PPE, please speak to HMRC for further details'.

Basically I am of the opinion woven items will be SR - some large sites confirm this; some have them marked as VAT free or (#shudder#) "Exempt" (#shudder#), the HMRC guidance to my eye appears to say they qualify for ZR, but HMRC then say speak to PHE to confirm if they are PPE (which I know they are not), which suggests SR, and that is backed by the link they provided me above (which makes no mention of non-surgical masks).  But VATHLT2021 item 63079010 reads to me as saying they are within the ZR'ing. 

Opinions/statements/declarations I am misreading VATHLT2021 item 63079010?

Apologies for the text wall btw, I was trying to demonstrate I had done some legwork before asking.

#Edit#

#Sigh#  30 seconds after posting and my brain clicks into gear... I suspect my confusion hinges on the word 'disposable' in VATHLT2021 item 63079010, as in not intended to be worn more than once and washed.

But then, if I turn my bra inside out and put it on Etsy and say it is a face covering and it is intended to be worn once and then disposed of, surely I haven't just changed the VAT treatment of my item?

My ear plugs say 'single use only', but I use them for a few nights at least (and the supplier even jokingly refers to this on their website), but they are officially single use items.

Replies (8)

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By jonharris999
11th Sep 2020 10:03

I vote SR, because para 10.2 of the PHE guidance appears unequivocal.

Isn't the mention of Textile Face-masks in VATHLT2021 item 63079010 only there because there is a supplementary 'helpful' list of commodity codes to save people downloading it elsewhere? That doesn't mean they are meant to be included in the ZR - at least that's not how I read it.

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Replying to jonharris999:
Quack
By Constantly Confused
14th Sep 2020 11:11

jonharris999 wrote:

I vote SR, because para 10.2 of the PHE guidance appears unequivocal.

Isn't the mention of Textile Face-masks in VATHLT2021 item 63079010 only there because there is a supplementary 'helpful' list of commodity codes to save people downloading it elsewhere? That doesn't mean they are meant to be included in the ZR - at least that's not how I read it.

Thanks Jon, I've never actually had the pleasure of using the VATHLT items before so I am perfectly willing to believe I have used them incorrectly.

Everything else I've read has made me think SR, so that's how I will lean.

Thanks all.

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By sculptureofman
11th Sep 2020 10:05

What happens if I wear a disposable mask more than once – do I have an obligation to inform the seller, who should then correct the VAT treatment to standard rated?

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RLI
By lionofludesch
11th Sep 2020 10:44

sculptureofman wrote:

What happens if I wear a disposable mask more than once – do I have an obligation to inform the seller, who should then correct the VAT treatment to standard rated?

It's how is held out for sale. Bit like pet food/food for working dogs.

A nonsense, really.

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By lionofludesch
11th Sep 2020 10:45

.

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By Constantly Confused
14th Sep 2020 11:12

sculptureofman wrote:

What happens if I wear a disposable mask more than once

You get Covid ;)

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Replying to Constantly Confused:
RLI
By lionofludesch
14th Sep 2020 11:32

Constantly Confused wrote:

sculptureofman wrote:

What happens if I wear a disposable mask more than once

You get Covid ;)

Rubbish.

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By john hextall
21st Sep 2020 11:09

I thought PHE had been abolished. Surely if the mask is intended for use as PPE, it will be zero-rated (even if ineffective against viruses)?

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