Why are some leaflets VAT standard rated and some zero rated?

VAT can be a bit of a minefield. The following summarises our understanding but should not be taken as legal advice – please always check the individual status of a product for VAT liability. Further information can be found at the UK government website.

Goods and services that we supply fall into either standard rated or zero rated categories, which we have summarised below.

Zero rated products supplied by L&B

Products regularly supplied by L&B which fall into the zero VAT rating category include:

  • Books
  • Brochures
  • Magazines
  • Leaflets (see below for special rules)
  • Some charity appeal packs if aimed at fundraising (see below and attached pdf)

As a general rule, we are able to invoice the entire job (eg design, artwork, print and production) as zero rated if we supply the complete printed product and do not separate the design and artwork services from the printing and finishing services.

Which leaflets are standard rated?
There is a particular rule about leaflets which applies if the primary purpose of a leaflet is to be returned (eg a form). The item becomes standard rated if more than 25% of the total area is blank and available for completion, or parts to be detached or returned.

What is a journal or magazine?
To qualify as a zero rated journal or periodical, the publication must be issued in a series at regular intervals more frequently than once a year. “Poster magazines” which are folded into magazine format can be classed as zero rated if they are issued at regular intervals, but not if they are one-off wallcharts.

Standard rated products supplied by L&B

Products regularly supplied by L&B which fall into the standard VAT rating category include:

  • Posters
  • Stationery
  • Folders and binders (unless binding a book)
  • Advertising (artwork and space)
  • Website design and construction
  • Some charity mailing packs eg “welcome” packs (see below and attached pdf)
  • Design and artwork if supplied as an end product*

* Design services are standard rated if supplied as an end product, but if we create and supply the finished product (books, magazines etc) and that product is zero rated, we can zero the entire invoice.

Charity appeal packs

Charity appeal packs are a minefield all of their own, and the VAT ratings rely on the purpose and contents of the pack. Generally, direct appeals for money are more likely to qualify as zero rated, though this is not guaranteed.