Motorcycle helmet prices could rise significantly if
the latest EU Commission proposals to rationalise VAT are accepted,
warns the BMF.
Issuing the warning, the British Motorcyclists Federation say
that this is because motorcycle helmets (currently zero rated
but only within the UK), are no longer included in the list of
goods under Directive 77/388/EEC that can carry a zero or reduced
rate of VAT.
Writing to Economic Secretary John Healey MP, Departmental Minister
for Customs and Excise, the BMF say that while it understands
the need for some EU tax harmonisation, with the compulsory helmet
laws that are in place, the UK practice of zero rating on helmets
should in fact be applied across the whole of the EU as a pro-active
safety measure and not removed as proposed.
The BMF say that irrespective of the need to simplify and standardise
rates of VAT, it is morally wrong to be compelled to wear a motorcycle
helmet and then be expected to also pay a tax on the purchase.
if you were to buy a £200 helmet then you will have to pay
an extra £35 to cover the VAT, but with extra paperwork
involved then manufacturers and importers will be putting the
prices of the product up to cover that too!
A long time campaigner for the removal of VAT from replacement
visors (visors are only zero rated when sold with a new helmet),
the BMF has also been lobbying for zero rating on other legitimate
motorcycling safety clothing, items which presently carry full-rate
Also included in the new proposals are children's clothing, automatically
penalising any biker who dares to take their child out on the
back of their bike - this now means VAT will be added to any clothing
they need including a bike jacket, jeans, boots, gloves and helmet,
which literally could add hundreds onto the cost of kitting out
your child safely!
The BMF understands that the revised list of goods defined in
what is known as Annex H are now to be agreed by member states
during 2004 and so are calling on their 140,000 members to lobby
their MP’s and MEPs on this important issue.
You can email and fax your MP HERE
The wide reaching proposals are part of a EU strategy to improve
the operation of the VAT system across all member states. They
are contained EU Council Directive (COM(2003) 397 final) issued
this week, which amends Directive 77/388/EEC on reduced rates
of value added tax. Also to lose their zero status are industrial
safety footwear and helmets, cycle helmets and children’s
clothing, all items that are zero rated, but only within the UK.
In a recent call to HM Customs and Excise we had a discussion
with them and it seems that both them and the HM Treasury have
the same stance on this. In a quote from them they say:
"The Commission proposal as it stands is unacceptable.
All EU VAT proposals must be agreed unanimously and there is no
question of us agreeing changes which do not fit in with our national
interests and social objectives."
They wouldn't be drawn any further as to what this actually means,
so let us have your views on this in the forum, and make sure
that you use the fax your MP link to ensure that we all make our
point of view known.