DMA warns industry of sitting on âad mail VAT timebombâ | DMA

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DMA warns industry of sitting on âad mail VAT timebombâ


The DMA has warned advertising mail suppliers to financial services businesses and charities that they could be sitting on a “VAT timebomb” following HMRC’s two-year delay in issuing guidance on how it will impose VAT rules for the channel.

The industry has been left in the lurch since April 2012 when HMRC announced that it had stripped bulk mail of its VAT-exempt status. Since then, many advertising mail suppliers have used the practice of ‘single sourcing’ – combining postage costs with production costs – for cutting out the VAT liabilities for financial services businesses and charities, which are unable to claim back or charge VAT.

In April 2012, the DMA alerted the industry to HMRC’s change of VAT rules for bulk and issued its own guidance, which highlighted the potential dangers of single sourcing for advertising mail suppliers.

For the past two years the DMA has been calling on HMRC to issue clear guidance on whether it will exempt single-sourced advertising mail from VAT charges. The DMA is now concerned that supplier businesses that were advised to interpret the rules in this way could now be hit with large back-dated VAT bills, as well as penalties.

Mike Lordan, the DMA’s director of external affairs, said that HMRC’s lack of communication could put many advertising mail suppliers out of business:

“Thanks to HMRC taking an unacceptable length of time to respond to our request for clarification, many businesses now could be sitting on a huge VAT timebomb.

“While we’ve advised businesses to take a cautious approach, the ambiguity surrounding the rules means that many businesses have interpreted the rules differently. Until now, HMRC has not issued guidance to the contrary. HMRC created this vacuum so it would be extremely unfair for them now to penalise companies.”

The DMA now will lobby the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to prevent HMRC from imposing backdated VAT charges and penalty fines for businesses while the industry was waiting for guidance.
The DMA is urging its members concerned about the impact of HMRC’s guidance on their advertising mail business to contact the DMA’s VAT helpdesk.


Ed Owen, Head of PR
Tel. 020 7291 3324

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