Printed matter - single or multiple supplies

By Tolley

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

  • Printed matter - single or multiple supplies
  • Supplies with more than one item
  • VAT treatment
  • Package test
  • Charities and the package test
  • Magazines and promotional items
  • Splitting supplies
  • Individually commissioned printed matter
  • Printed materials used to supply discounted services
  • Marketing services
  • Printed matter supplied with other services

This guidance note provides an overview of the rules regarding the VAT treatment of several items of printed matter supplied together. This note should be read in conjunction with the Zero-rated - supplies of printed matter and Printed matter - production services guidance notes.

VBOOKS1000; Notice 701/10: Zero-rating of books and other forms of printed matter (LNB News 12/03/2007 158); Notice 700/24: Postage, delivery charges and direct marketing (LNB News 06/05/2011 78); De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.273 (subscription sensitive); VATA 1994, Sch 8, Group 3
Supplies with more than one item

If all of the items in the package are liable to VAT at the standard-rate, the supplier will charge VAT on the total value of the supply in the normal way. Alternatively, if all of the items in the package are zero-rated, no VAT will be charged on the supply. The difficulty arises when a different VAT treatment applies to some of the items supplied. In these situations it is necessary for the business to determine whether they are making a 'single' or 'multiple' supply for VAT purposes.

Special rules apply to the following transactions:

  • the supply of a package that contains only items that are printed on paper or card - this is called the package test and is explained below
  • certain items that are mounted on a magazine cover (see below)
Determining whether it is a single or multiple supply

If a business is supplying a book or magazine together with another item, it will be necessary to determine whether it is making a single or multiple supply. Please see the Single or multiple supplies - application of Card Protection Plan guidance note for a more in depth analysis.

Businesses will

More on Zero-rated supplies: