Printed matter and e-publications ― single or multiple supplies

Produced by Tolley

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

  • Printed matter and e-publications ― single or multiple supplies
  • When do issues around single and multiple supplies arise?
  • What are the general principles of single and multiple supplies?
  • What is the package test?
  • Charities and the package test
  • What is the position when goods are mounted on a magazine cover?
  • What is the position when printed matter is supplied with marketing services?
  • Services which are ancillary to zero-rated printed matter
  • Delivered goods
  • Direct marketing
  • More...

Printed matter and e-publications ― single or multiple supplies

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marked the end of the Brexit transition / implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time, key transitional arrangements came to an end and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s VAT and customs regime. This document contains guidance on subjects potentially impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see the Brexit — overview guidance note.

This guidance note considers some of the practical issues businesses face in determining whether publications form part of a single supply or multiple supplies for VAT purposes.

For in depth discussion of the case law in this area, see De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.273.

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.

When do issues around single and multiple supplies arise?

It is important to consider whether there is a single supply or multiple supplies when a package of elements, including zero-rated publications, are supplied together.

If the package of elements would all be liable to VAT at the standard-rate when supplied on their own, then the problem does not arise as the supplier will charge VAT on the total value of the supply in the normal way. Similarly, if the package of elements would all be zero-rated if supplied in isolation (eg zero-rated publications). then no VAT needs to be charged on the supply and a problem does not arise. However, difficulties do arise when the elements of the package would be subject to different VAT rates if supplied in isolation.

For example, a set of physical course materials might be supplied with a package of online lectures or other resources. Here, the different elements may be subject to different VAT treatments if supplied in isolation, so it is important to determine whether they are to be treated separately

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