HMRC have issued a policy paper 'Revenue and Customs Brief 1 (2020): VAT liability of digital publications' confirming that their VAT treatment of supplies of digital newspapers and other digital publications has not changed following a recent Upper Tribunal decision.

Printed newspapers qualify for VAT zero-rating. In News Corp UK & Ireland Limited v HMRC [2019] UKUT 0404, the Upper Tribunal accepted that, as electronic versions of newspapers shared the same purpose and characteristics as printed newspapers, they should be treated in the same way, and zero-rated.

HMRC are appealing the decision. In the meantime, their policy paper clearly states that they will continue to treat all digital publications as standard rated and will reject any claims made in reliance on the News Corp decision.

The paper sets out what details are required to make a claim where businesses consider that the decision applies to their own supplies of digital publications. Claims are subject to a four-year time limit.

Links to our guides

Books and Printed Matter
The Council of the European Union has amended Directive 2006/112/EC to enable EU member states to apply reduced rates of VAT to electronically supplied publications.

Errors: VAT how to correct (subscribers)
How to correct VAT errors or mistakes.

Partial exemption & input VAT (subscribers)
How do you calculate the amount of input tax you can recover under the VAT partial exemption rules? What are the de minimis rules?

External links

Policy paper: Revenue and Customs Brief 1 (2020): VAT liability of digital publications - Upper Tribunal in News Corp and Ireland Ltd

News Corp & Ireland Limited v HMRC [2019] UKUT 0404