Mandatory safety equipment, like car child seats and motorcycle helmets, doesn’t attract VAT. The same should be true of bike lights, says the creator of a new campaign on the Government’s e-petitions website.
Addressing his request to Her Majesty's Treasury, the fabulously-named Paul Power writes:
At the moment, bicycle lights are treated by the Treasury as being a luxury item and subject to VAT at 20%.
As bicycle lights are a mandatory safety accessory, and it is an offence for a cyclist not to have them on their bicycle during the hours of darkness, they should accordingly not be subject to VAT.
Cycle helmets, which aren't mandatory, but are considered by the Government to be an essential safety item, are accordingly not subject to VAT, while bicycle lights, which are mandatory and are an essential safety accessory are treated as a luxury item and subject to VAT at the highest rate.
This is wrong.
Bicycle lights can potentially save lives and reduce likelihood of traffic collisions.
Please abolish VAT on bicycle lights, which would have the immediate effect of reducing the cost of bicycle lights by 20% and make this mandatory safety equipment more affordable to all cyclists.
While that seems unarguably straightforward, don’t expect that if the petition is effective those 3000 lumen UberBright EyeScorcher ZQX tarmac-melters you have had your eye on will suddenly become 16.66 percent cheaper.
Safety equipment generally qualifies for VAT-exempt status only if it meets the relevant British Standard. Most high-power lights don’t, for one reason or another. They’re unlikely to become cheaper, unless the Treasury makes the sort of broad exemption that applies to car child seats, which attract a VAT rate of just five percent.
You can sign the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/55344
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.