At the end of 2016 HM Revenue and Customs Brief 17/2016 setting out it 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, HM Revenue and Customs 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 rate supply.
This policy will come into effect on 1 April 2017. This will allow suppliers to use up existing stocks as well as to review how they intend to market the books in the future. HMRC feels that many of the colouring books that were zero rated prior to 1 April 2017, could have met the conditions to be zero rated had the suppliers understood the rules. Therefore, HMRC have decided not to seek to recover of VAT on adult colouring and dot-to-dot books prior to 1 April 2017.