European proposal paves the way for zero-rated ebooks

News - Bookselling Tuesday, 02 October 2018

Ecofin allows member states to align rules for print and digital

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) of the European Union has agreed a proposal allowing member states to apply reduced rates of VAT to electronic publications, including ebooks.

The move has been welcomed by the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF). Co-presidents Fabian Paagman and Jean-Luc Treutenaere said: “EIBF has been advocating against tax discrimination on ebooks for many years and the decision of lowering VAT rates on ebooks is the result of the lobbying efforts of the bookselling sector at European level, represented by EIBF.

"Today's decision finally resolves a long-standing issue. Whether a book is paper or digital, ordered online or bought in a shop, different tax treatment that hampers access to books should be avoided. From now on VAT rates on paper books and ebooks will be aligned (if Members States so wish), a measure which will boost the ebook market and will further stimulate reading."

The proposal allows member states, but does not oblige them, to align the rates of e-publications to those of printed publications. The new rules will apply temporarily, pending the introduction of a new, "definitive" VAT system.

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