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HMRC internal manual

VAT Books

Books: What kinds of article are eligible?: Music (Item 4)

The Scope and coverage of Item 4

Item 4 relieves any complete music which is presented on paper. Relief does not, however, extend to articles which are primarily educational aids, to teach the reader how to make music, such as pictures of how to play chords on the guitar. Whether these articles may qualify for relief depends upon whether they have the physical characteristics of any other article mentioned in Group 3.

Flip cards containing information about music

The tribunal in the case of Flip Cards (Marine) Ltd (MAN/96/248) (VTD 14483) considered this matter. The appellant sold packs of cards that measured 9cm by 5.7cm, which resembled small playing cards in appearance. They were sold in packs of about 100. One side of each contained a question about music, with the answer to the question printed on the reverse side. HMC&E issued a ruling that the cards did not qualify for zero-rating as they were not within the ordinary meaning of music. In his ruling the tribunal chairman attempted to provide a definition of music:

I hold that for the purposes of Item 4 of Group 3 of the said Schedule 8 music consists of the written or printed score or set of parts of a musical composition.

The tribunal chairman ruled that the appellant’s flipcards fell outside this definition, as they were concerned with the theory of music. On this basis he ruled in favour of the Commissioners.