Global menu

Our global pages


Coronavirus - Treasury Update: Zero-rating from 1 May 2020 - UK

  • United Kingdom
  • Coronavirus - Tax issues
  • Tax planning and consultancy



The UK Government has recently announced the zero-rating for supplies of PPE equipment and E-Publications from 1 May 2020. 

E-Publications means electronically supplied books, brochures, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, journals and periodicals (including magazines).

This means that suppliers of PPE equipment or E-Publications will no longer have to charge VAT, but are still able to recover input tax incurred in relation to the sale of PPE equipment or E-Publications.

The zero-rating of PPE equipment will only be available from 1 May 2020 to 31 Just 2020. As import duty has already been waived on the importation of PPE equipment into the UK, supplies of PPE equipment are now free from any indirect tax until 31 July 2020. 

What does this mean for suppliers? 

  • If you have collected payment or issued a VAT invoice for the supply of PPE equipment or E-publications before 1 May 2020, VAT is chargeable in the normal way. However, if the actual supply of PPE equipment or E-Publications won't take place until after 1 May 2020, it may be possible to qualify for zero-rating. This means any VAT accounted to HMRC is potentially recoverable if a VAT return has already been rendered, with the delivery taking place on or after 1 May 2020.
  • Any recovered VAT will generally need to be passed onto to the consumer, however, if the supplier has actually absorbed the economic burden of the VAT cost, it may be possible to retain this VAT.

What does this mean for consumers?

  • Any agreement to purchase PPE equipment or E-Publications entered into before 1 May 2020 may qualify for zero-rating, provided that the PPE equipment or E-Publications has yet to be delivered, no payment has been made and no VAT invoice has been issued to the consumer.
  • As supply chain issues may create uncertainty on the acquisition of PPE equipment, some consumers may have made advance payments or deposits to secure the PPE equipment. Any of these payments made before 1 May 2020 would trigger a 'tax point', requiring a VAT charge to be accounted to HMRC. However, if the PPE equipment, or for that matter E-Publications, related to the payments is not supplied until 1 May onwards, it is possible to qualify for zero-rating. You may be able to recover an amount equal to the VAT paid to the supplier on these supplies.  

The position may vary depending on the contract between the supplier and consumer. We can review any existing agreements to assess whether zero-rating can apply and whether any previously paid VAT can be recovered.