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What are the VAT Differences Between Publications?

EU Council addresses VAT differences between electronic publications and physical publications

The e-publication directive has been adopted by the EU Council after an agreement was reached on 2 October 2018. Effective from 6 November 2018, the Council is allowing alignment of VAT rules for electronic and physical publications. This has opened up the possibility for the UK to implement a zero rate VAT into English law if our Government wishes to do so.

Current VAT rules

Under the current VAT rules (directive 2006/112/EC), electronically supplied services are taxed at the standard VAT rate, whereas physical publications such as books, newspapers and periodicals in the UK are zero rated.

Other EU countries treat these supplies of physical publications as reduced (not zero rated as we do in the UK) and this directive allows all member states to apply the reduced rate of VAT to their electronic publications as well. The zero rates will only be allowed for member states that currently apply them to ‘physical’ publications.

In summary

To summarise this directive will allow the UK, if it so wishes to apply zero rate VAT to its electronic publications as well.

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Annette Woods

15th November 2018

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