Value Added Tax

Printed matter and e-publications ― newspapers, journals, periodicals, picture and painting books

Produced by Tolley
  • 22 Dec 2021 18:48

The following Value Added Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Printed matter and e-publications ― newspapers, journals, periodicals, picture and painting books
  • What kinds of newspapers are zero-rated?
  • What kinds of journal and periodical are zero-rated?
  • What kinds of children’s picture books are zero-rated?
  • Examples of products seen as toys
  • What kinds of children’s painting books are zero-rated?
  • Adult colouring and dot-to-dot books
  • Practical points ― newspapers, journals, periodicals, picture and painting books

Printed matter and e-publications ― newspapers, journals, periodicals, picture and painting books

This guidance note examines the zero-rating which extends to the supply of newspapers, journals and periodicals, and to the supply of children’s picture books and painting books.

With effect from 1 May 2020, zero-rating also extends to supplies of certain electronic publications (such as online newspapers). For details, see the Printed matter and e-publications ― e-publications guidance note.

For in-depth commentary on the legislation and case law in this area, see De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.273B.

For an overview of the VAT status of printed matter and e-publications more broadly, see the Printed matter and e-publications ― overview guidance note.

What kinds of newspapers are zero-rated?

Zero-rating applies to the supply of newspapers.

There is no definition of a newspaper in the VAT legislation but HMRC has suggested that the following characteristics are suggestive of a newspaper:

  1. it is issued at least once a week on a continuous basis under the same name

  2. it is usually dated or serially numbered

  3. it usually consists of several large sheets of paper that may be stapled or folded

  4. it contains information about current events of local, national or international interest

  5. it often carries items such as readers’ letters, sports news, the weather forecast, crosswords, and features (including feature supplements) on fashion, gardening or more specialised topics

  6. it must contain a substantial amount of ‘news’

HMRC Notice 701/10, para 3.5; VBOOKS3400

In one important case, a taxpayer lost its argument that a newspaper did not necessarily

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