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VAT treatment of colouring and dot-to-dot books

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HMRC has issued Revenue and Customs Brief 17/2016, setting out its policy, effective from 1 April 2017, on the VAT treatment of colouring and dot-to-dot books, many of which are specifically labelled as suitable for children and/or adults.

From 1 April 2017, HMRC will accept that colouring or dot-to-dot books are VAT zero-rated unless one of the following applies. The books:

  • are marked as suitable for adults or grown-ups;
  • are offered for sale in retail shops together with other adult books that are unsuitable for children or are not appropriately marked as suitable for children when for sale on a website; or
  • contain images reflecting profanity, pornography, violence and illegal acts.

If the book meets any of the three conditions above, it will be a standard-rated supply.

HMRC does not intend to seek recovery of any tax on books of this sort sold prior to 1 April 2017, where the content is suitable for children under 18 years of age.

The implementation date of 1 April 2017 for the new policy to apply is to give publishers, wholesalers and retailers an opportunity to use up existing stocks, as well as to review how they are to be marketed in the future. See

Issue: 1336
Categories: News , Indirect taxes , VAT