ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2005/78

Goods and Services Tax

GST and supply of a Braille sign
FOI status: may be released
Status of this decision: Decision Current
CAUTION: This is an edited and summarised record of a Tax Office decision. This record is not published as a form of advice. It is being made available for your inspection to meet FOI requirements, because it may be used by an officer in making another decision.

This ATOID provides you with the following level of protection:

If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.

Issue

Is the entity, a sign manufacturer and supplier, making a GST-free supply under subsection 38-45(1) of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (GST Act), when it supplies a Braille sign which does not comprise any non-Braille component such as words or diagrams?

Decision

Yes, the entity is making a GST-free supply under subsection 38-45(1) of the GST Act when it supplies a Braille sign which does not comprise any non-Braille component such as words or diagrams.

Facts

The entity is a sign manufacturer and supplier. The entity manufactures and supplies a Braille sign.

The signs are installed in public buildings and provide information for the visually impaired as to the location of various areas and amenities inside and outside of the building, including: toilets, parents' rooms, lifts, stairs, and access ramps. The sign does not comprise any non-Braille component such as words or diagrams for use by the sighted.

The entity is registered for goods and services tax (GST) and there is no agreement between the entity and the recipient that the supply of the Braille sign will not be GST-free.

Reasons for Decision

Under subsection 38-45(1) of the GST Act, the supply of a medical aid or appliance is GST-free where the medical aid or appliance:

·
is covered by Schedule 3 to the GST Act (Schedule 3), or specified in the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Regulations 1999 (GST Regulations)
·
is specifically designed for people with an illness or disability, and
·
is not widely used by people without an illness or disability.

Item 151 in the table in Schedule 3 (Item 151) lists 'auditory/tactile alerting devices'. The phrase 'auditory/tactile alerting devices' is not defined in the GST Act. Accordingly, it is appropriate to examine the ordinary meaning of that phrase.

The Macquarie Dictionary (1997), 3rd edn, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, New South Wales defines 'auditory' to mean 'relating to hearing, or the sense of hearing ...', 'tactile' to mean '1. of or relating to the organs of sense or touch. 2. perceptible to the touch...'; and 'alert' to mean '...4. an alarm or warning..'

Accordingly, an auditory/tactile alerting device is a device which is designed to alert a visually impaired person to a presence, occurrence or danger through the person's sense of touch or hearing.

The Braille sign constructed and supplied by the entity uses Braille to relay information to the visually impaired through their sense of touch. The sign is installed in public buildings and provides information for the visually impaired as to the location of various areas and amenities inside and outside of the building, including: toilets, parents' rooms, lifts, stairs, and access ramps. Therefore, the Braille sign is an auditory/tactile alerting device and is covered by Item 151.

The Braille sign is designed specifically for the purpose of communicating information to the visually impaired and is only used by people able to read Braille. It does not comprise any non-Braille component for use by the sighted, such as words or diagrams, and therefore, is not widely used by people who are not visually impaired.

As such, the supply of the Braille sign meets the requirements of subsection 38-45(1) of the GST Act and is GST-free.

Date of decision:  8 April 2004

Legislative References:
A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999
   subsection 38-45(1)
   Schedule 3
   Schedule 3 table item 151

A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Regulations 1999
   The Regulations

Related ATO Interpretative Decisions
ATO ID 2005/79
ATO ID 2005/80
ATO ID 2002/230

Other References:
The Macquarie Dictionary, 1997, 3rd edn, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, New South Wales

Keywords
Goods and services tax
GST free
GST health
GST supplies & acquisitions
Section 38-45 - medical aids & appliances

Business Line:  Indirect Tax

Date of publication:  18 March 2005

ISSN: 1445-2782