A zero rate of VAT is to be applied to personal protective equipment supplied by domestic suppliers to frontline health staff.

The move follows a request made to the Chairman of Revenue by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe.

Yesterday Revenue confirmed it had implemented an EU Commission decision that allows goods to combat COVID-19 to be imported, from outside the bloc, free of import duties and VAT.

Mr Donohoe has also asked Revenue to consider zero rating personal protection equipment, ventilators and oxygen needed to combat COVID-19 when supplied to hospitals, nursing homes and GP practices.

The concession, if applied, will stay in place up to 31 July 2020 and will be subject to review. 

The moves could add up to a significant saving. Nursing homes, for example, could save about the quarter of the cost of surgical gloves following the removal of the 23% VAT charge and 2% import charges.

The scheme announced yesterday is also backdated to the end of January so qualifying businesses can retrospectively claim tax relief on eligible items.

"The approval and refund processes for this relief are simple and straightforward. "Both the approval application form and refund form are available on the 'Customs - Including Import reliefs for COVID-19 specific products' section of our website www.revenue.ie.

"Both forms can be submitted electronically, and the refund claims will be processed speedily," Declan O'Dálaigh, manager of Revenue's Customs Reliefs Unit explained.

However, he reminded qualifying businesses that there was still a requirement to complete the standard customs import documentation for such imports.