The dreaded VAT and printed products!

Ahh that's where your wrong, it's more important to you know than ever.

As you know you have to pay VAT on products that qualify for VAT whether you are VAT registered or not, so say you want to buy 5,000 A6 Flyers and the price is £80, if the company that you are purchasing from charges you VAT then the price you pay will then be £94, an extra £14 which you cannot claim back. 99% of the time (although there are exceptions) Flyers are VAT exempt and VAT should not be charged.

So make sure you are informed as to whether the products you are buying should have VAT applied or not, when you are VAT registered it will make no difference to you to be honest as you will just claim the VAT back.

The reason I chose to explain this on my blog is that I phoned Prontaprint last week to get an idea as to what they charge on A6 Flyers, ready for a local marketing campaign, I was amazed that on both occasions that I telephoned they said VAT was applicable, which in my particular case just wasn't true.

To me it wouldn't have mattered really as I would have claimed the VAT back but for the un-informed member of the public that isn't VAT registered they would have paid an extra £57.75 in this case which is disgusting, would that VAT have been handed over to HMCE or pocketed, who knows!
If I buy print for say £80 ex VAT and then it is £94 with VAT, I charge my client £94 + whatever commission I put on top.

I use a digital printer that applies VAT on everything, this doesn't bother me as my clients pay for the printing anyway. They do this as it stops any issues of ambiguity on some items.

If a client is concerned about claiming the VAT back on printing I get them to deal with the printer direct and just supply the artwork to the client.

Has worked fine so far :)
Is that allowed by law? To charge VAT on products that are VAT exempt, not sure.

My main point is that for the non VAT registered if they are being charged VAT on products that are VAT exempt then they are being ripped off really.
Yeah, totally get your point mate :)

I dunno if its illegal or not, but you may have a very valid point. I suppose its making money on items that the government say are VAT exempt.

hmmmmmm, I'm gonna look into that.
Hi Guys

Boss Hog is right: charging VAT on non-VAT items like flyers is illegal. Any company who does this can be reported to HMRC and the company has to repay the VAT initially paid.

Copy shops like Prontaprint and Kall-Kwik do this all the time: they then pocket the VAT and say that the items are non-VAT rated to the VAT man!! No wonder they are dropping like flies!!

A friend of mine who ran a church charity successfully got around a grand back from a Kall-Kwik who (wrongly) charged him VAT over a period of about 2 years!

My advice is to challenge the company!
Indeed - if you are non VAT registered you really want to keep an eye out for items that are non-VAT-able as some unscrupulous printers whack VAT on anyway.

As you say Pixels Ink - if you get charged £80 + VAT (£94) from your printer then charge your client £94 straight (as you're not entitled to charge the VAT) that's fine. But if the item should have been VAT exempt then you could contest the charge with your printer and claim back the £14 as profit - or pass on the reduction to your client.

No one wants to be paying out more than they should! Tis bad business :)
I am looking into contacting the printer in question to see what they have to say. Over the past couple of years I will have paid a fair bit in VAT on stuff I know should have been VAT exempt.
Vat Liability Form

Hey guys

This should answer your question

Find the pdf attached its has been zipped (PC)

Hope it helps


  • VAT Liability of Printed Matter
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