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30 April 2020

Chancellor Fast Tracks VAT Zero Rating On E Publications  

Plans to scrap VAT on e-books and e-newspapers have been fast-tracked in a boost to readers and publishers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today.

Rishi Sunak said the zero rate of VAT will now apply to all e-publications from tomorrow (Friday) - seven months ahead of schedule.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people across the UK to get hold of the books they want whilst they are staying at home and saving lives.

“That is why we have fast tracked plans to scrap VAT on all e-publications, which will make it cheaper for publishers to sell their books, magazines and newspapers.”

At the Budget in March, the Chancellor originally announced he would be applying a zero rate of VAT to supplies of e-publications - e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines and academic e-journals - to support reading and literacy from 1 December this year.

Figures published by the Treasury projected the measure to be worth £810 million over five years.  

The News Media Association has stressed that the VAT zero rating must be applied to all the various digital platforms through which news media journalism is distributed so that as many different types of publishers as possible can benefit.

Responding to today’s announcement, the NMA said:  “The NMA has campaigned for many years for VAT zero rating to be applied to news media publications in all their forms. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, we have been pressing for it to be brought forward to help publishers respond to the unprecedented challenges they are facing.  We are very pleased that the Treasury has responded to this.

“Journalism has a critical role to play in the fightback against the pandemic, whether by keeping the public informed about vital public health information or by holding authority to account on behalf of the public. We look forward to continuing to work with Government on a range of solutions – such as an extension of the business rates holiday to cover news media publishers and advertising tax credits  - to ensure the news media industry can weather this crisis and continue to provide the public with this vitally important service.”