I am informed by Revenue that section 130 of the Finance Act 1992 provides the definition of an ambulance for the purposes of registration and VRT. An ambulance must be type approved under the type-approval framework directive, Directive 2007/46/EC, and must meet the technical criteria in Annex XI of that directive to come within the scope of the registration provisions. This includes criteria that must be met under the provisions of CEN 1789:2007, the European standard specifying requirements for the design and equipping of ambulances used for the transport and care of patients. A vehicle that is declared as an ambulance will only be registered as a VRT category D vehicle (at a zero rate of VRT) if it has the requisite type approval. More detailed information is available on the Revenue website at the following link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/importing-vehicles-duty-free-allowances/guide-to-vrt/conversions/specific-vehicles.aspx.
I am further informed by Revenue that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. In general, the VAT Directive provides that all goods and services are liable to VAT at the standard rate unless they fall within categories of goods and services specified in the Directive in respect of which Member States may apply a lower rate or exempt from VAT. The supply of an ambulance is not included in any of those categories. However, the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme provides for a refund of VAT and VRT on the purchase of an ambulance for transport of a disabled person or persons within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations. The scheme is open to organisations who fall within the definition of “qualifying organisations” where their purpose is to provide services to persons with a disability (within the meaning of the Disability Act 2005) and is engaged in the care and transport of a person or persons with a disability.
Under the Charities VAT Compensation Scheme, charities which are registered with the Charities Regulator can claim for VAT on any expenditure incurred in relation to their charitable activities, except where the charity is already entitled to a refund, deduction, relief or repayment of that VAT. Under this scheme the applicant is entitled to claim a proportion of their VAT costs based on the level of non-public funding they receive. For example, if 70% of their income comes from non-public funds they may claim back 70% of the eligible VAT incurred. However, as there is a capped amount of funding available annually under the scheme, charities will be paid on a pro-rata basis where the total amount of claims received exceeds the cap. The scheme has closed for this year and will re-open in January 2020 in respect of expenditure incurred in 2019.