Child car seats are not only needed for peace of mind in the safety of our children, they’re also required to be used by all children up to the age of 12 (or 1.35m tall) by law. So why do parents have to pay VAT on them?
If you have children, the list of things you have to buy for them seems endless. Thankfully, the two biggest items – food and kids’ clothing – are VAT-exempt, as are children’s shoes, which are another essential and painful ongoing expense dreaded by cash-strapped parents.
And by-and-large, if there’s a safety reason for your purchase, it’s also often VAT-free. VAT isn’t charged on cycle helmets, as long as they meet specified safety standards, for example. And motorcycle helmets, which are mandatory, are exempt too.
If your job requires you to wear special clothing for health and safety reasons, like protective footwear or head-protection, then they’re also VAT-free as they serve an essential function – you have no choice but to buy them.
Why pay VAT on child car seats?
So why on earth should we have to pay VAT on child car seats?
It’s important to point out that the current level of VAT on child car seats is below the now standard 20% rate, with a levy of 5%. Yet this is an item all parents have to buy and use by law. Every child up to the age of 12 (or 1.35m tall) must use a child car seat in order to meet the legal minimum safety standards.
Sometime in the dim and distant past, it appears child car seats were incorrectly classified for tax purposes as ‘car accessories’ which made them VAT-payable. This is fine if your ‘accessory’ is a non-essential option like say, furry dice, fancy wheels or seat-covers. But this obviously isn’t so with child car seats – there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be VAT-free.