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HMRC internal manual

VAT Books

Books: Processes leading to the production of printed matter: Preliminary services

This stage covers the drawing together of the basic contents of a work which will later become an article of printed matter. At this stage, the value of the work resides in the thought process which has established these basic contents. It is usually necessary to express these thoughts on paper in some way, but it would not be possible to print or publish the contents in their present form - they need rearranging, tidying-up, printing and distributing.

Preliminary services may be supplied in two ways.

  • A trader may supply an article while it is still at the preliminary service stage - for example, a manuscript supplied by an author, or the initial composition of a piece of music by a composer. This supply is always standard-rated - the customer is paying for the thoughts of the author or composer, to which the printed matter is incidental.
  • A trader may be contracted to provide a continuous process, starting with preliminary services and culminating in the issue, on a wide scale, of an article of printed matter. An example might be a contract to research the information for a catalogue, and then arrange the production and printing. Although we regard the research as preliminary services, provided there is NO separate supply of these services, they can be treated, in the same way as preparatory work, as an integral part of the supply of printed matter.