I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 83 together.
The Programme for Partnership Government recognises the difficulties faced by community groups in relation to VAT rates on certain products such as defibrillators. This is an EU competency and the Government has committed to work with our EU counterparts in seeking to reform this area.
Defibrillators, other than implantable defibrillators, are liable to VAT at the standard rate, which in Ireland is 23%. Parts or accessories are also liable to VAT at the standard rate. There is no provision under existing VAT law that would make it possible to apply a reduced rate or zero rate to the supply of such products. Under the EU VAT Directive, any changes to VAT rates outside of what is currently permitted by the EU VAT Directive must be negotiated at EU technical working groups and ultimately agreed by the EU Council of Finance Ministers.
As part of the Action Plan on the Future of VAT 2016 which sets out the Commission’s pathway for modernizing the VAT system, the EU Commission published a proposal on the reform of VAT rates on 18 January 2018. Technical and political discussions are ongoing at EU Council among all Member States and Ireland will take the opportunity to continue to recommend that Member States should be able to apply specialised VAT rating to defibrillators and other emergency-medical and rescue equipment. The Government is very committed to supporting community groups and we will continue to press for a reduction in the VAT rate on defibrillators at EU level.
It should of course be noted that The Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax)(No. 15) Order 1981 provides for a refund of VAT in respect of certain medical equipment, including a defibrillator, acquired by a disabled person for exclusive personal use.