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ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2006/250 (Withdrawn)

Income Tax
Medical Expenses Tax Offset: cost of purchasing and installing a fold down ramp to provide wheelchair access to a car

Attention This ATO ID is withdrawn. Guidance on the Net Medical Expenses Tax Offset can be found at Medical expenses on the ATO website (QC 31918).
Attention This document has changed over time. View its history.
FOI status: may be released
Status of this decision: Decision withdrawn 11 August 2017.

CautionCAUTION: 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you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed.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

Do expenses incurred in purchasing and installing a fold down ramp to provide wheelchair access to a car qualify as medical expenses under paragraph 159P(4)(f) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (ITAA 1936)?

Decision

Yes. Expenses incurred in purchasing and installing a fold down ramp to provide wheelchair access to a car qualify as medical expenses under paragraph 159P(4)(f) of the ITAA 1936.

Facts

The taxpayer's spouse suffers from a physical disability, which affects their mobility, and as a result is confined to a wheelchair.

The taxpayer's general practitioner recommended that the taxpayer's standard car should be modified to enable the taxpayer's spouse to get into and out of the car while remaining in their wheelchair.

The taxpayer incurred costs in acquiring and installing a fold down ramp into their car. The ramp enabled the taxpayer's spouse to get into and out of the car whilst remaining in their wheelchair.

The ramp is of type manufactured and sold specifically to allow wheelchair access to a standard passenger vehicle.

Reasons for Decision

Subsection 159P(3A) of the ITAA 1936 provides that a tax offset is allowable to a taxpayer whose net medical expenses in the year of income exceed $1500.

The medical expenses must be paid by the taxpayer in respect of themselves or their dependant. 'Dependant" is defined to include the spouse of the taxpayer.

The term 'medical expenses' is defined in paragraph 159P(4)(f) of the ITAA 1936 to include payments in respect of a medical or surgical appliance prescribed by a legally qualified medical practitioner.

Taxation Ruling TR 93/34 describes a 'medical or surgical appliance' as being an instrument, apparatus or device which is manufactured, distributed or generally recognised as an aid to the function or capacity of a person with a disability or an illness. An appliance is an aid to function or capacity if it assists or improves a person's abilities in performing activities of daily living.

Taxation Ruling TR 93/34 also provides that generally a household or commercial appliance is not a 'medical or surgical appliance' and that we need to look at the character of the appliance, not the purpose for which it is prescribed or used.

In Case D37 72 ATC 210; Case 7 (1972) 18 CTBR (NS) 33 ( Case D37 ), the taxpayer installed a chair lift to enable his paralysed wife to move from floor to floor in their two storey house. The Board of Review held that the lift was a medical or surgical appliance, finding that:

   ... it can be said that the lift was specifically designed to replace or alleviate an absent or impaired bodily function or medical defect and the use of which, in the commercial sense, is limited in normal circumstances to such replacement or alleviation...In appearance and function the chair lift in the instant case may be equated to an invalid chair which is normally designed to enable the patient to travel in a horizontal plane. Here the chair was specifically designed for the vertical...

The fold down ramp is an 'appliance'. It has been manufactured and sold as an appliance which will enable a person who is confined to a wheelchair, as a result of their disability, to gain access to a car.

It assists the person's ability to perform one of the activities of daily living, that is travelling in or driving a passenger vehicle. In these circumstances the fold down ramp has the character as an aid to the function or capacity of a person with a disability. It is similar in nature to the lift in Case D37.

The payment for the purchase and installation of the fold down ramp is therefore in respect of a medical or surgical appliance for the purposes of paragraph 159P(4)(f) of the ITAA 1936.

Date of decision: 4 September 2006

Year of income:Year ended 30 June 2006

Legislative References:
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
   section 159P
   subsection 159P(3A)
   subsection 159P(4)
   paragraph 159P(4)(f)

Case References:
Case D37
   72 ATC 210

Case 7
   (1972) 18 CTBR (NS) 33

Related Public Rulings (including Determinations)
Taxation Ruling TR 93/34

Keywords
Medical & surgical appliances
Medical expenses
Medical expenses rebates

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number: 3767343;1-8EBEB9U

Business Line: Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

Date of publication: 8 September 2006

ISSN: 1445-2782

ATO ID 2006/250 (Withdrawn) history   Top  
   Date   Version 
    4 September 2006   Original statement   
 You are here ®  11 August 2017   Withdrawn   


 


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