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Hello, I'm Keith and happy to help you with your question.
Under normal VAT accounting every invoice you issue should have VAT added at the standard rate (20%). The service you provide, although within the book trade, is not one of the categories where the rate of VAT would be zero. The 85% you hand over to the copyright holder is, of course, 85% of the net sum billed before you added your VAT. If the copyright holder is registered for VAT then they should issue you with a VAT invoice to enable you to reclaim any input tax.
I would recommend that you have a look at VAT Notice 701/10. You will find it at:
I would also be inclined to consult your local VAT Office for further guidance. Although VAT 701/10 does indicate that your services are standard rated there may be precedents which will allow it to be taxed at the zero rate.
I do hope I have shown you a way forward with your conundrum.
Just for clarification, are you saying that the invoice I raise on the buyer in my name for rights as well as my 15% commission fee invoice thereon are subject to VAt at standard rate.
Sadly there is no reference to the sale of book rights or permission in
VAT Notice 701/10. Is there a Vat notice on rights per se?