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Equipment for disabled employees

As a generality, anything supplied by an employer to an employee will be taxable, either through the PAYE system or as a benefit on Form P11D (Employer’s Return of expenses & benefits), and charged to National Insurance Contributions (either full employer’s and employee’s, or Class 1A employer’s).

As ParalympicsGB’s medal tally increases daily, we find ourselves wondering what tax breaks there are where employers provide help for their own “super humans”.

A disabled employee given equipment or services by their employer, with the main purpose of enabling them to perform their duties of employment, will not be deemed to have received a benefit liable to tax and National Insurance. Examples of the kind of equipment covered include hearing aids or wheelchairs.

Note that the equipment or service does not have to be used only for work. The rules still apply even if there is significant private use outside work. Although, you will probably not get away with a purpose-designed sports chair – maybe just as well, as the average cost of a titanium chair used by top-class basketball players is around £3,500, compared with a wheelchair for daily use at about £200.

Where the equipment is a car there will be no tax and NI to pay provided that:-

  • the car has been adapted for the employee’s special needs (or has an automatic transmission if the employee’s disability means they can only drive such cars), and
  • the car is only used for business journeys, or for travel to work-related training, or for ordinary commuting between the employee’s home and permanent workplace.

Sadly, if the employee’s private use of the car goes beyond ordinary commuting, then car and fuel benefits arise. However, there are a number of differences from the normal rules that may apply, when it comes to calculating the value of the benefit.

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