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So-called “reading tax” on ebooks is scrapped in UK budget

Chancellor  Rishi Sunak has today announced that the VAT charge on ebooks, dubbed the “reading tax”, is to be abolished. VAT will no longer be charged on digital books as well as newspapers and magazines after 1st December. 

Sunak told the Commons: “Digital publications are subject to VAT. That can’t be right. So today I’m abolishing the Reading Tax. From the 1st December, just in time for Christmas, books, newspapers, magazines or academic journals, however they are read, will have no VAT charge whatsoever.”

The Publishers Association have been campaigning to remove the 20% charge for a long time. Today, CEO of the Publishers Association Stephen Lotinga said: “We are delighted that the Government has decided to zero-rate VAT on digital books and journals in the Budget. It’s fantastic that the Chancellor has acknowledged the value of reading. 

“The decision to axe the reading tax will bring an end to the illogical and unfair tax on those who need or prefer to read digitally and should contribute to an increase in literacy in the UK. We want to thank all the parliamentarians, organisations and individuals who have supported this campaign and helped make the case for change – we look forward to continuing the important work of making reading accessible for all.”

Will this encourage you to buy more ebooks? Did you know that VAT was currently being charged? Would love to know your thoughts! 

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  • Let's see if it actually results in price changes. Currently - at least on Amazon - many ebooks seem to be priced either just above or just below the paperback equivalent; there is no clear "20%" factor involved. Will they become 16% cheaper from December? I have my doubts.

    I suspect it's more likely that between Amazon and the publishers, greater profits will be retained.

    As to buying more books, isn't my backlog of as-yet-unread books big enough already?

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    • That was precisely my (cynical and personal) reaction! 99p is such a nice round number, I don't think we'll see any ebooks suddenly on sale for 70p... 

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