Care needed with disability access improvements

Published on 5 October 2004

From 1 October 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act requires service providers to make 'reasonable adjustments' to their premises to tackle any physical features that prevent disabled people from using their services.

The Revenue have posted helpful guidance on their website (see link below). However, care is needed because, if you read between the lines of the advice, it will be noted that a range of expenditure will not attract tax relief and the way the adjustments are carried out may determine the tax treatment.

All sorts of socially desirable expenditure has had special tax treatment accorded to it over the years, but not this measure, which just aims to help those with disabilities.

In our Report on disability and the tax system we suggested that such subtle distinctions should be swept aside. We also instigated a debate at the time of the Finance Bill by promoting a clause that would have removed the lottery of whether tax relief would, or would not, be available.

Unfortunately the government rejected our proposition on the dubious grounds that, as a large number of businesses had already made adjustments, it would be unfair to give tax relief to those that were now complying. The government is happy to apply retrospection to tax avoidance so perhaps there was a case for generosity here.

This will, of course, be an ongoing issue and the LITRG view is that an opportunity has been missed both to simplify and rationalise the tax system and to give a continuing impetus to adjustments that will benefit those with disabilities.

(05-10-2004)

Contact Name: John Andrews (Tel: 0844 579 6700, Fax: 0844 579 6701)

Relevant Link: Inland Revenue disability access guidance