In the UK printed books, newspapers, journals and magazines are zero-rated for VAT. By contrast, digital versions of these publications are subject to the standard-rate VAT of 20%.
The Axe the Reading Tax campaign has described the discrepancy as illogical and unfair, and called on the Chancellor to remove the VAT on digital publications at the Budget, which is scheduled for 11 March 2020.
When asked about this recently, the Government said it keeps all taxes under review, including VAT. It stated that any amendments to the VAT regime as it applies to physical publications and e-publications must be assessed against policy, economic and fiscal considerations. The Government has said it will continue to consider the benefits and risks associated with changing the VAT rate for e-publications for digital businesses, high street retailers, consumers and the taxpayer.
I hope the Government listens carefully on this important issue and considers the concerns raised by the Axe the Reading Tax campaign.
More generally, I believe that reading and literature enlightens us, as it provides a way of understanding the world and learning the skills to engage in it. It teaches us research and writing skills, it helps us to express ourselves and be analytical in our thinking. I recognise the importance of lifelong learning and I know that literature can help us to build arguments, analyse, probe and read between the lines.