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UK VAT zero rating of e-publications

May 15th, 2020

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As of 1 May 2020, supplies of e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines and academic e-journals in the UK are entitled to the same VAT treatment as supplies of their physical counterparts.

Group 3 of Schedule 8 to the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“Group 3”) provides for the zero rating of printed matter. Sections 30(4) and 96(9) of that Act give HM Treasury powers to make an order to amend the scope of Group 3 and the Notes to that Group. The European Union (EU) vires for the extension of the zero rate to electronic publications are contained in Council Directive (EU) 2018/1713, which changed the scope of the EU’s optional reduced rate provisions. This Directive came into force in December 2018. Where Member States (including the United Kingdom (UK) during the Transition Period) have a reduced rate (or an equivalent zero rate) for supplies of printed publications, it gives them the option to extend that reduced or zero rate to supplies of electronic versions of those publications. The UK has decided to exercise this option to extend its maintained zero rate to supplies of certain specified electronic publications.

Press release: VAT scrapped on e-publications

Policy paper – VAT: zero rating e-publications

Revenue and Customs Brief 3 (2020): VAT liability of supplies of electronic publications