The VAT rules governing printed promotional materials are complicated

The VAT and tax implications of certain business activities are never straightforward. Taking printing promotional materials for example. One might reasonably expect business card printing and putting flyers together to have the same tax implications. However the rules are more complicated than that. When did the HMRC ever makes things straightforward and easy to understand?

The items that fall under VAT rules are stationary items (including business cards, letterheads and compliment slips), postcards, folders, invitations, posters, tickets and greetings cards. So it’s important to factor this in at the business card design stage. VAT will be applied.

So what are the exceptions? Well no VAT is levied on books, brochures, pamphlets and leaflets, but even here businesses need to be careful because there are exceptions to these rules. The areas to watch out for include leaflets that contain a form, any kind of document that grants entry to an event (will be classified as a ticket and VAT applied at the standard rate) and anything offering a discount.

So how can a business print leaflets safe in the knowledge they won’t have to pay VAT? The guidelines state it must be “epheremal”. In other words designed to be read a few times and then disposed of. So watch out for laminating any printed materials. This implies it is designed to be kept and thus incurs VAT at the standard rate. It’s a real minefield so businesses need to be careful.

Cards Made Easy can help any organisation with business card printing and business card design. They are experts in the field of business cards and promotional literature. They provide expert advice as well as quality printed promotional products. Prospective customers can visit their website – or give them a call to find out more about their great value services.

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