4.a.20 Will the initial supply of a foot orthosis to a patient and subsequent postage and modifications or repair to the foot orthosis by a podiatrist or contracted lab be GST-free?
The first part of this issue under the heading 'initial supply' is a straight application of the law.
In relation to the second issue on postage, for source of ATO view, refer to GSTD 2002/3- Goods and services tax: how do I account for GST when I supply taxable goods, non-taxable goods and delivery services together?
The question refers to a number of separate supplies and it is necessary to identify each supply, the supplier and the recipient so as to determine the GST status of each supply.
The initial supply of an orthosis for the foot is GST-free under section 38-45, where it is designed and used as an external application to modify position or motion. In addition it must be specifically designed for people with an illness or disability, and not widely used by people without an illness or disability. A foot orthosis is GST-free at all points in the supply chain where these requirements are met, regardless of whether the patient takes possession of the orthosis during a consultation or subsequently by post.
In most cases, delivery of a foot orthosis is a taxable supply that is separate to the actual supply of the foot orthosis itself.
However, where the cost of delivery of a foot orthosis is part of a single, indivisible supply of the GST-free foot orthosis, the supply of the delivered foot orthosis is GST-free. It would be necessary that the cost of delivery did not alter between clients and that it was not merely an optional extra that was included in a single amount.
Also, where a podiatrist pays a postage fee as agent for the patient, and is reimbursed the exact amount of postage incurred, the podiatrist has not made a taxable supply. Any GST charged by the postal carrier on the supply of postage, is paid by the patient in this situation. The podiatrist would not be entitled to input tax credits in relation to the postage.
Repairs and modifications
Where as part of a GST-free service pursuant to section 38-7 or 38-10 (for example podiatry or chiropody), the recognised professional modifies a foot orthosis due to the changing shape or condition of the patient or the patient's foot, it is accepted that this modification will also be GST-free to the patient.
However, any supply by a contracted lab to a podiatrist will not be GST-free under section 38-7 or 38-10. Also, where a foot orthosis is repaired to restore it, this repair will not be GST-free pursuant to section 38-7 or 38-10.
See also Issue 2.a.15 which explains the issue of the modifications and repairs to medical aids and appliances as part of a GST-free medical or other health service.