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2017.06.22 EU looks set to reduce ebook tax
On June 1, 2017, the European Parliament voted on a proposal to enable individual EU countries to reduce the VAT (Value Added Tax, or a goods and services tax) rate on electronic books. The motion was passed in Parliament, and EU member states may soon be able to bring the VAT for ebooks in line with printed books, down to zero percent in some cases.

Until now, ebooks were considered an ‘electronic service’ in EU countries. This meant that in the UK, they attracted a 20% VAT charge. In the past, because the VAT of the seller country applied, UK consumers could avoid the higher tax by purchasing ebooks from sellers (such as Google, Apple, and Amazon) based in Luxemburg, where there is a 3% tax rate for electronic services. However, in January 2015 the EU’s taxation rules changed so that the VAT rate of the buyer’s country would apply.

Society of Authors CEO Nicola Solomon welcomes the news, commenting on the union's website: “We have always said that any tax on books is a tax on knowledge, so we welcome today’s vote. We have pushed for a zero-rate on ebooks since their invention, so now that the UK Government is free to implement one, we strongly urge them to do so, regardless of what stage we have reached in the Brexit negotiations. It’s worth pointing out that 97% of MEPs voted for this. With that level of political will behind it, I see no reason to delay acting on it.” 

This bill, now passed by the EU parliament, awaits agreement by the Council of the EU as the final step. Whether and how the UK (and other EU countries) amends their tax on ebooks remains to be seen.

For further information please refer to the following websites: