4.a.19. Are walking sticks GST-free?
Non-interpretative – straight application of the law.
A medical aid or appliance is GST-free where it is:
- covered by Schedule 3 or subsequent regulation, and
- specifically designed for people with an illness or disability, and
- not widely used by people without an illness or disability.
Once an item meets all of the above elements then its supply will be GST-free all the way down the supply chain and not only when supplied to a person who has an illness or disability.
Item 97 of Schedule 3 refers to ‘walking sticks – specialised’. The word ‘specialised’ was used to exclude non-functional and purely ornamental walking sticks and to only include those walking sticks that were intended for use by ill or disabled people. This reflects the inherent nature of the items included in Schedule 3.
Accordingly, walking sticks (excluding non-functional and purely ornamental walking sticks), being hand held devices, the principal function of which is to assist a person to walk by taking some of the weight of that person where that person is unable to walk unaided, and which have been specifically designed for people with an illness or disability and are not widely used by people without an illness or disability are GST-free.
This interpretation of item 97 was made on 24 May 2001 and replaces all alternative interpretations made prior to this date.