Printed matter ― overview of zero-rating

By Tolley
  • (Updated for Budget 2020)
Printed matter ― overview of zero-rating

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

  • Printed matter ― overview of zero-rating
  • Zero-rated items
  • Printed items that are liable to VAT
  • Related supplies
  • Loan and hire
  • Book tokens
  • Importing printed matter
  • Vanity publishing
  • Production
  • Multiple supplies ― the package test
  • Supply splitting
  • E-publications

This guidance note provides an overview of the VAT treatment of supplies of printed matter VBOOKS1000 HMRC Notice 701 10 HMRC Notice 700 24 De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4 273 VATA 1994 Sch 8 Group 3 A number of items of printed matter are liable to VAT at the zero rate However the zero rating will only ever apply to relevant items that are produced using paper and card Goods containing text in other format such as CD ROMs video tapes or audio cassettes will always be liable to VAT at the standard rate The standard rate will also apply to the storage and distribution of text by fax email microfiche internet or similar For example if a magazine is physically printed it will be zero rated but if the same magazine is distributed via email it will be standard rated For other notes on this topic please see the Printed matter single or multiple supplies and Printed matter production services guidance notes Zero rated items For a table summarising the VAT treatment of the most common items of printed matter see the Summary VAT treatment of common types of printed items guidance note Books and booklets These are items which normally comprise text or illustrations which are bound in a stiff cover The following items would be zero rated this list is not exhaustive reference books directories and catalogues collections of letters and other documents that are permanently bound in a cover fiction and non fiction literary works loose leaf books manuals and instructions including the binder where supplied amendments to loose leaf publications VATA 1994 Sch 8 Group 3 Item 1 School work books and other educational texts that are supplied in question and answer format can also be zero rated as long as the essential characteristic of the publication is that of a book or booklet Exam papers can also be zero rated if they qualify as a book booklet pamphlet

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