Axe the Reading Tax! End prejudice against digital readers

22 October 2018

The UK Government has the opportunity to overturn an illogical and manifestly unfair tax system that discriminates against digital readers.

Historically, EU legislation has prohibited zero-rating VAT on ebooks and epublications. So whilst the UK’s VAT regime has rightly exempted printed books, magazines and newspapers from VAT since the 1970s, a 20% tax on reading and on knowledge in the digital world has continued to be levied at Brussels’ behest.

This backward looking tax affects us all – not least the public institutions who end up paying millions of pounds in VAT to read digital publications and those in our society who rely on ebooks to make reading more accessible.

But now is the time to right this wrong. Common sense has prevailed and the EU has finally agreed that Member States will have the flexibility to set their own VAT rates on ebooks and epublications. As a nation of best-selling authors and voracious readers, it’s only appropriate that we take the lead. The UK risks falling behind the rest of Europe if we don’t act fast.

We are supporting the Publishers Association’s campaign to Axe the Reading Tax. The Chancellor has an opportunity to remove the 20% VAT rate on digital publications in his upcoming Budget – make sure your MP knows about it by signing the petition here.


Maargaret Tuckwell (write as Margaret Bacon) (27/11/2018 04:55)
" It is completely illogical. It doesn't matter whether you are holding a book or a kindle,the meaning and message goes directly to the brain. You might as well say that the tax you should pay on an item bought in a shop should vary with the person who wraps it up for you.
Margaret Tuckwell(Bacon)"
Jan Turk Petrie (16/11/2018 03:14)
" I simply can’t understand the logic behind this. Physical books are tax exempt so how can it be just or sensible to levy this tax on the electronic version of the same text?"
Natalie Sellers (23/10/2018 07:30)
" I agree, being penalised for reading on an e-reader is unfair. I work with dyslexic students who read on a Kindle because they can increase the text size / decrease the amount of text on a page. There are many other reasons why people chose to read digitally and in an age where reading is on the decline, we shouldn't discourage people through taxing them."
Katherine Mezzacappa (23/10/2018 04:44)
" People need to be encouraged to read, not hindered, especially in ways that have minimal environmental impact."

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