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UK VAT Rules for Printed Materials

vat on printingRules for VAT (value added tax) on printed materials are very complicated when we talk about United Kingdom legal laws. Especially VAT on leaflets and flyers are very tricky but this does not mean that they cannot be understood. The further discussion explains the whole process in an easy way so an idea can be formulated.

VAT on printed items depends upon different factors. For example, the format of the material, the size of that material, contents of the material and above all the intention of the written material count a lot. Most of the books, booklets, brochures, pamphlets and leaflets have zero VAT rate.

HM Customs and Revenue (HMCR) usually categorise the printing material and set their rates. All stationary items, post cards, folders, invitations, posters, tickets, and greeting cards come under the category of materials for which you have to pay standard rates. All printed documents also come under this category. Likewise the tickets and vouchers also have standard VAT rates.

To make your leaflets VAT free or to qualify for VAT zero rating, HM Customs and Revenue has some criteria. If you follow it, your leaflet will be VAT free. For example, your leaflet must be designed for a temporary use and then you have to discard it. Thick paper of a card should not be used for a leaflet. It should not be used as a poster. It can be instructional but must not have some other intentions. If a leaflet will not be of an ephemeral nature; it will have standard VAT rates.

VAT Notice 701/10, ‘Zero Rating of Books Etc.’ has made a list of items that come under zero VAT rates. They have made the understanding process easier. For our convenience, we divide them into these classes.

Books and booklets:  these materials normally consist of text that is bound in a stiffer or harder cover than the pages of the books. Books like reference books, catalogues, directories, dictionaries, literature, collections of letters and documents, antique books, loose-leaf books, school books, educational texts in question and answer format are all VAT free. (Though there are certain books like address books and diaries, picture cards and stamp albums that have VAT standard rates).

Brochures and pamphlets:

there is no pre-defined law for brochures and pamphlets. Brochures normally consist of several sheets either fasten or folded form to convey some information. On the other hand, pamphlets are also like brochures but with a different purpose. Both these come under the category of zero VAT rates.

Leaflets:

leaflets are also not defined product in terms of their form. Normally a leaflet consists of a single sheet of paper of A4 size that is mainly designed to be held in hand for reading by individuals. The purpose of these leaflets is to convey information. They are complete in themselves and are printed on lime papers. They are supplied in sufficient quantity and are of an ephemeral nature. They are zero VAT rates.

Items with areas for completion:

there are many items that have areas for completion (like submission forms or other type of forms etc.) that do not come under the VAT free materials though they are just like pamphlets.

Exceptions are everywhere. If you find some confusion, you can seek professional advice or you should visit the HM Customs and Revenue website.