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EU vote paves way for UK removal of tax on reading and learning

Updated: Oct 15, 2018

Publishers have today called for the UK government to use new powers that would allow VAT to be removed on ebooks, audio books and online newspaper and magazine subscriptions in the UK. 

At the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting in Brussels today a longstanding proposal was approved that would allow all member states in the EU to reduce VAT on epublications (digital versions of books, journals, magazines and newspapers).  In the UK this would mean a 20% reduction in the tax currently applied to digital publications,  which is not applied to print publications. 

Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said: “The government must act now to remove this unfair and illogical tax on ebooks, magazine and newspaper online subscriptions.  

"It makes no sense in the modern world that readers are being penalised with an additional 20% tax for choosing to embrace digital. We should not be taxing reading and learning. 

"We are leaving the EU but today’s decision from the ECOFIN committee removes a major obstacle for the UK Chancellor, who should now do away with this tax at the earliest opportunity – namely the Budget on October 29.

"The government’s preoccupation with Brexit should not delay him – if the UK does not act quickly it risks the UK digital policy falling behind its European competitors. 

“This act would show the world that the UK is really serious about building a forward-thinking digital economy.”

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