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Over the line: HMRC argues for VAT for colouring books


HMRC is pushing for VAT to be introduced for adult colouring books.

According to the Telegraph, the government body intends for VAT to be introduced retrospectively for such books.

The Publishers Association reported that last year book sales grew by 0.4% reaching £2.8bn; the first rise in four years. Chains like Foyles, Waterstones and WH Smith have all seen increased book sales as a result of these popular books, which are said to help relieve anxiety and stress.

Current VAT laws state that children’s books containing “sample pictures for copying or outlines of pictures for colouring, painting or drawing” are zero-rated. However, HMRC is claiming that because books such as Animal Kingdom, the Secret Garden and the Mindfulness Colouring Book are for adults, VAT should still apply.

“It is our view that this decision flies in the face of the relevant legislation,” said Michael O’Mara, the chairman of the country’s largest publisher for colouring books.  “We and other publishers, following the lead of the Publishers Association, are fighting this decision and we hope that HMRC, on reflection, recognise that they have got this wrong.”

“There’s been no change to the rules,” a HMRC spokesperson said. “Children’s colouring books are entirely free of VAT and there are no plans to change that. We are meeting with publishing representatives shortly to discuss the VAT treatment of adult colouring books.”

Published on Monday 23 May by Philip Gallagher

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