Children’s picture books and painting books are zero-rated whether printed on paper or textiles (e.g. rag books), unless they are essentially toys (VATA 1994, Sch. 8, Grp. 3, item 3). Toys include books consisting wholly or mainly of pictures of models for cutting out and ‘pop-up’ books where the ‘pop-up’ images are not related to a printed or narrative text.

However, books with text relating directly to the material for cutting out can be zero-rated if the text covers at least 25% of the book. HMRC say that pages of assembly instructions should not be included as printed text for the purpose of the ‘25%’ rule (Notice 701/10/2011, para. 3.7 and 3.8).

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