Taxman Should Join up the Dots Says Tax Expert

Aug 15, 2016

Tax expert Owen Kyffin is calling for clearer guidelines over VAT on adult colouring and join-up-the-dots books.

He said: “This is a serious matter that affects both retailers and publishers.  It stems from the tax authorities suddenly claiming that VAT is payable on so-called adult colouring and dot-to-dot books.

“Generally books are VAT free and there appears to be no problem over the situation surrounding children’s books, which are VAT free.  But according to some major publishers and retailers the tax authorities are claiming that the adult books are incomplete and are therefore subject to VAT. 

“It is time for HMRC to join up the dots themselves and explain themselves fully.” 

Owen, who is a director of Whitley Stimpson, one of the largest independent accountants and business advisers in the area with offices in Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney said the matter is serious because the current craze in adult colouring books led to sales of 3,283635 copies last year alone.   He said this could cost publishers and retailers £20.3million if the tax authorities ruled that the books are subject to VAT.

He said: “Retailers are caught up in this wrangle ought to take independent advice on how to deal with this in case they are suddenly saddled with a large VAT bill.” 

The adult colouring book craze took off last year, helping the print trade to a rise in sales of 6.6 per cent – its first rise in print sales in six years.  Titles such as Johanna Basford’s “Enchanted Forest” and the Harry Potter Colouring Book from Studio Press are selling in high volumes. 

Owen Kyffin can be contacted on 01295 270200 or by email at