is there vat on books

Is There VAT On Books? Everything You Should Know

In today’s world, where every item holds a significant value, value-added tax or VAT is something which can not be ignored. Every item has its taxation policies. As a result, some items are subjected to VAT at a reduced rate, and some are even tax-exempt. So, it is necessary to understand the policies as certain terms and conditions might apply to them.

If you are wandering here and there looking for taxations and VAT on books, stationery, printers, newspapers or related products, then you have landed on the perfect spot. Because this blog guarantees you the perfect guide and information on everything you are looking for. So, stop worrying, as we have got you covered. Check out our VAT calculator for quick and accurate calculations: UK VAT Calculator.

Are Books Exempt From VAT?

Books and booklets are, in general, Zero-rated in Ireland and the UK. This means that there is no VAT on your book or booklets under normal circumstances. According to the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), all of the following are zero-rated:

  • Books That Are Used For References
  • Catalogues And Directories
  • Antique Books
  • Any Illustrations Or Texts Bound In Cover Harder Than Its Pages
  • Collection Of Letters And Documents
  • Loose-leaf Books, Instructions And Manuals
  • Exam Papers
  • School Books And Other Educational Documents

Any book or booklet following the criteria mentioned above, no matter which language it is written in, is considered VAT exempt, and you have to pay no VAT for that. According to VAT Notice 701/10, the VAT rate for Leaflets, Brochures and Pamphlets is zero percent.

Are There Any Circumstances In Which VAT On Books Becomes Applicable?

Under certain terms and conditions, VAT on books becomes applicable. For example, any book which contains plans or illustrations that can be used for industrial, commercial or architectural purposes is liable to Taxes. Besides these, picture cards and stamp albums are also subjected to VAT at the standard rate. This information can be verified at the official website of the UK. If you want to learn about what is a VAT receipt, check out our article on What is a VAT Receipt? How to request a VAT Invoice?.

Do We Have To Pay Any Stationery VAT In The UK?

The rules and regulations are different for stationery items. According to the HMRC, stationery such as exercise books and account books are standard-rated. This means that VAT is charged to them at the standard rate. The standard rate varies with the area, and it is set to 23 per cent in Ireland.

There is an exemption to this policy. Some standard-rated stationery, when unused and new, can be exempt from VAT, provided they are sold after they have been completed or have the characteristics of a booklet or a book.

VAT On Printers And Printing: Are They VAT Exempt?

Unlike VAT on books, VAT is applicable to printers at a standard rate as they are proper machinery. However, it gets too complex when discussing printed products and services. These VAT policies are constantly under revision, and the latest policies can be viewed on the official government website.

vat on printers

VAT On Printers And Related Multifunctional Hardware Devices

Computer hardware devices are liable to taxations, and printers are considered one of those. Because of this, printers are subjected to VAT, and a standard rate applies to them. Whether you are purchasing an inkjet printer, a laser printer or any other multifunctional multifunctional device, the rules and regulations for VAT remain the same.

These taxation policies change regularly, so visiting the HMRC website and verifying whether your device is tax-exempt is recommended. If you are running a mass-scale business, selling and purchasing printers, it is advisable to hire a professional adviser to gain maximum profit with a minimum loss.

VAT On Printing Services

VAT on printed items is not as simple as VAT on books, and it depends solely on the nature of the item. Printing can include any form of heliography, offset, duplicating, photogravure, embossing, books, etc. Every such printing may be liable to different VAT rates. To make it simple, let us consider an example: VAT is applied to the brochure at a second reduced rate, whereas on printed books, there is no applicable VAT.

The zero-rated VAT on books applies to Atlases, Children’s picture books, Drawing books, Annual publications like school or college magazines, Music books, etc. For a printed item like a booklet or book to qualify for zero-rated VAT, it should fulfil the below-mentioned four conditions and requirements:

  • It should be stapled, stitched or bound (loose-leaf).
  • It should contain pictorial and textual material mainly.
  • It should comprise at least eight pages or four leaves exclusive of its cover.
  • It should have a front cover which is distinctive and devoid of any text.

If any book or booklet falls into this category, it will be labelled as VAT exempt. It should be remembered that the cover or binding that comes with the book is exempted from VAT, but if it is provided separately, it is liable to VAT at a standard rate.

When Is VAT Applicable At A Second Reduced Rate?

Some printed items are liable to the second reduced rate. These include Periodicals, which are newsletters, monthly or weekly magazines, journals, sectoral publications, TV guides, Phone directories etc. The second reduced rate means these items will be liable to VAT at a rate of 9 per cent, which is even less than half of the standard rate of 23 per cent.

When Is VAT Applicable At A Reduced Rate?

There are some printed materials which are liable to a reduced rate of 13 per cent. These include brochures, catalogues, maps, hydrographic charts, music sheets not in book form and many other items. It is to be noted that from 1st November 2020 to 31st August of the recent year, such products were also liable to VAT at a second reduced rate. Keep this into account: it is always recommended to check the latest rates from the link given above.

Are Newspapers Liable To VAT?

Like VAT on books, VAT on newspapers is a very common concern, especially for the elderly public, as they are used to the print media instead of the new electronic media. So, the government has decided to exempt newspapers from VAT starting from 1st January 2023. This includes the regular newspapers;

However, the newspapers used solely for advertising would be liable to the standard rate of 23 per cent. According to the given definition, a newspaper is termed as a publication published periodically to make the public aware of the national, local, international and other important pieces of news. Any piece of paper that fits this definition would be exempt from VAT.

Are Any Related Products On Which Standard Rate Is Applicable?

A variety of printed materials or related products might be subjected to the Standard Rate Of VAT. The covers and folders used to wrap up a book are VAT exempt, but the same folders and covers, if provided separately, would be liable to VAT at not reduced but standard rate. These policies are made to keep businesses in check. Paying VAT makes you eligible to reclaim VAT, and it helps the government to keep all things under control.

Other Printed stuff that is liable to the standard rate of VAT includes Account books, albums, audio cassette books, calendars, greeting or memorial cards, cheque books, copy books, coupons, planners, directories, forms, globes, hymn sheets, music copy books, photocopying, passports, tickets, tokens and many others.

How To Know If My Product Is Liable To VAT Or Not?

If you are a knowledgeable business thinking about whether your product is applicable to VAT, feel comfortable because we have backed you up. By deciding to invest in products that are exempt from VAT, you can save a lot of pennies. Different items are applicable to VAT at different rates, and these can be checked very easily on the official website.

If you are conducting a mass-scale business, hiring a VAT expert might be very fruitful. It would help if you kept in mind that these policies are very sensitive to changes in government and any external influence. So, it is better to keep yourself updated. The same product that applies to a standard rate might be liable to a standard rate tomorrow.

When Do I Need To Hire A Taxation Expert?

If you are conducting a small-scale business, we recommend researching the policies yourself and deciding what is best by taking the opinion of fellow businessmen. However, if you have decided to invest a big amount in your business, spending some to hire an expert will not hurt you.

An expert might be able to help you grow and give you opinions that you would have never even thought of. So, investing in a small thing might be beneficial to an unimaginable extent.

Final Verdict

In a nutshell, applying VAT on books, stationery, newspapers, and other materials can vary depending on the specific nature of the item and the policies set by that particular country. Many books and booklets are exempted from VAT. The covers on books are also VAT exempt, but when they are sold separately, they become liable to VAT at a standard rate. Likewise, a product might be liable to a second reduced rate today and a reduced rate tomorrow.

VAT on books and normal booklets are zero-rated, whereas the printers that are used to print books are subjected to VAT at a standard rate. This is because the printers fall into the hardware category, and a standard rate is applied to hardware. Before starting a business, properly going through this article should be in your best interest, as it might help you earn a lot of profit in a very short time. As the saying goes, work smart instead of work hard.

Rían Doyle

I'm a VAT professional with years of experience helping businesses with compliance and reporting. My goal is to simplify VAT calculation and provide valuable insights through my engaging writing style and clear explanations of complex concepts.