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03 October 2018

NMA Welcomes EU Decision to Reduce VAT Rates for Online Publications

The News Media Association has welcomed the EU’s decision to allow European Member States to apply lower VAT rates to e-publications such as electronic books, newspapers and periodicals.

In the UK, newspapers, journals and magazines in print are zero-rated for VAT. However, digital versions of these publications are currently subject to standard-rate VAT of 20 per cent. The NMA is urging the UK Government to apply zero rating for e-publications as soon as possible and is in discussion with Treasury and DCMS officials.

David Dinsmore, News Media Association chairman, said: “Online news content faces tough competition from social media platforms and freely available news outlets.

“By harmonising the tax treatment of digital and print publications, the EU has recognised the significant digital transformation of the online news media landscape which reaches bigger audiences than ever before.

“We welcome the amendments to the directive for a fairer tax regime which will benefit consumers and provide a stimulus for more investment into quality content creation.”

The EU’s decision will enable Member States to apply the same VAT rate for online content as printed content, saving the news media industry millions annually. Additionally, the VAT reduction could lead to wider societal benefits through educational value, improved literacy, and cultural enrichment.

The NMA, along with the PPA, The Publishers Association and News Media Europe, welcomed the VAT reduction and called on Member States to put the VAT reduction measures into effect as soon as possible.

The agreement was reached at a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council. The directive will be adopted without further discussion once the text has been finalised in all official languages. 

It will come into force on the 20th day after publication in the Official Journal, for Member States’ implementation.