Stephens & George

Vat Free Print


Printers and Print buyers can let out a huge sigh of relief. Even though the Government has increased the top rate of VAT to 20% as of 4th January 2011, this will not be applied to books, magazines, newspapers and certain other printed matter.

There had been fears that the new Coalition Government would look at removing the zero-rating but George Osborne confirmed that there wouldn’t be any changes to the zero-rated items which also include children’s clothes and food.

The BPIF who published the lobbying document ‘Priorities for Print’ and presented it to all MP’s at the All Party Print Group Parliamentary Reception on 6th July can’t afford to rest as constant vigilance is required as VAT on books, newspaper and magazines is an obvious target for future claw backs.

Education and the promotion of literacy are powerful weapons in the fight to eradicate poverty, improve social mobility and increase labour productivity. Information is not only a basic requirement but it drives economic growth.

BPIF Corporate Affairs Director Andrew Brown said “Taxation of books, newspapers and magazines would increase the cost of freedom of expression and the acquisition of knowledge, and would cheap propecia tablets constitute a tax on literacy”.

There are four major countries where there is an exemption on VAT on books, magazines, newspapers and certain other printed matter. South Africa is not one of them; they are currently lobbying for it.



Often causing confusion here’s a list of what printed matter is and isn’t VAT-able.

VAT free

Books, Booklets, Brochures, Catalogues, Directories, Flyers (hand distributed), Journals, Magazines, Manuals maps, Sheet music, Newsletters, Newspapers, Pamphlets, Price lists, Timetables


Acceptance cards, Business cards, Calendars, Certificates, Compliment slips, Coupons, Delivery notes, Diaries, Envelopes, Folders, Forms, Invitations, Invoices, Labels, Letterheads, Postcards, Posters, Questionnaires, Stationery, Stickers, Tickets, Design, Photography and Photocopying.

Leaflets are special. To be zero rated they must convey information and be for hand-held reading, not for display. They must be made up of a single sheet up to A4, be a complete item (not part of a larger item) and not printed on a card stock of over 230gsm. If over a quarter of the printed matters constitute a form the leaflet becomes VAT-able.

Reproduced with kind permission of BPIF Inprint Magazine.