ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2005/79

Goods and Services Tax

GST and signs containing words, diagrams and Braille translation
FOI status: may be released
Status of this decision: Decision Current
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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you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed.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 sign that comprises information for the sighted and a Braille translation of that information for the visually impaired?

Decision

No, the entity is not making a GST-free supply under subsection 38-45(1) of the GST Act when it supplies a sign that comprises information for the sighted and a Braille translation of that information for the visually impaired as the sign is widely used by people without an illness or disability. The entity is making a taxable supply under section 9-5 of the GST Act.

Facts

The entity is a sign manufacturer and supplier. The entity manufactures and supplies various types of signs for use by both the sighted and visually impaired.

The entity is constructing and installing a sign that comprises information for the sighted and a Braille translation of that information for the visually impaired.

The information for the sighted is displayed on the sign with words and/or diagrams. A Braille translation of that information is either built into the surface of the sign or is recorded in a 'Braille skin' which is then laid over the sign prior to installation.

The signs are installed in public buildings and provide information 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 is designed as a directional aid for all members of the general public, whether sighted or visually impaired.

The entity is registered for goods and services tax (GST) and its supply satisfies the other positive limbs of section 9-5 of the GST Act.

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 entity's sign comprises words, diagrams and a corresponding Braille translation and is designed to alert both the sighted and visually impaired to the presence and location of various things inside and outside of the public building. The Braille component of the sign uses Braille to relay this information to the visually impaired through their sense of touch. Due to its Braille component, the sign is an auditory/tactile alerting device and is covered by Item 151.

The remaining requirements in subsection 38-45(1) of the GST Act are that the sign must be specifically designed for people with an illness or disability and not widely used by people without an illness or disability. The sign is designed for and installed in public buildings. It is used by any person, whether sighted or visually impaired, who enters that building and uses the sign for information. Therefore, the sign is widely used by people without an illness or disability. As such, the supply of the sign does not meet the remaining requirement of subsection 38-45(1) of the GST Act and is not GST-free.

The entity is registered for GST and the supply satisfies the other positive limbs of section 9-5 of the GST Act. Furthermore, the supply is neither GST-free under any other provision in Division 38 of the GST Act nor is it input taxed under Division 40 of the GST Act. Therefore, the entity is making a taxable supply under section 9-5 of the GST Act when it supplies a single sign that comprises directional information for the sighted and a Braille translation of that information for the visually impaired.

Date of decision:  8 April 2004

Legislative References:
A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999
   section 9-5
   Division 38
   subsection 38-45(1)
   Division 40
   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 2005/78
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
Taxable supply

Business Line:  Indirect Tax

Date of publication:  18 March 2005

ISSN: 1445-2782