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26/11/2002

EBF Position Paper on VAT – Don’t tax reading!

  • 26/11/2002

DON’T TAX READING !

The VAT rate applied to printed books by Member States throughout the European Union (EU) currently varies from 0% to 25%. The Customs and Taxation Directorate within the European Commission is currently developing plans to harmonise VAT rates throughout the EU. Indications suggest that in the future Member States may be instructed to allocate a VAT rate of not less than 15% on almost all products and services. However, EU countries may well be able to impose a reduced rate of not less than 5% on a small number of items, including printed books.

Grateful as we are to the possibility that printed books may be allocated a lower tax band, the European Booksellers Federation strongly believes that printed books should not be taxed at all throughout the EU in the future, and that under the harmonisation arrangements, any Member State that wishes to allocate a 0% VAT rate for printed books should be allowed to do so.

Moreover, EBF feels that electronic books should be treated in the same way. A printed book and electronic book of the same title will have the same content and purpose’.

WHY PRINTED AND ELECTRONIC BOOKS SHOULD NOT BE TAXED: FOR EUROPE AS A WHOLE

  • · BOOKS are central to the acquisition of literacy, education and knowledge of all kinds: special and general, informal and formal, whether for adults or children, providing the basis of reading skills, inquiry, comprehension and individual enterprise.
  • BOOKS build and transmit the culture, science and history of Europe. European identity lives through the written word.

 

0% VAT RATE ON BOOKS: BENEFITS FOR THE CONSUMER …

  • Will lead to lower prices for BOOKS; lower prices will lead to more books purchased and to an increase in reading throughout the EU.
  • Consumers will have greater access and choice from which to make BOOK purchases, as more bookshops will survive.
  • Consumers will see a broader range of BOOKS in the shops.

 

0% VAT RATE ON BOOKS: FOR THE EUROPEAN ECONOMY …

  • Will strengthen Europe’s economy by raising the level of education, literacy and life-long learning programmes.
  • Will increase investment and employment within the book trade; a healthy sector will lead to greater tax revenues for the fiscal authorities.
  • Will encourage risk taking and innovation by publishers and booksellers.

DON’T TAX READING!

Given the positive impact and the benefits of a 0% rate of VAT for (i) Europe as a whole (ii) the consumer and (iii) the European economy, the European Booksellers Federation urges that in any harmonisation plans developed by the Commission, any Member State of the EU that wishes to allocate a 0% VAT rate for books should be allowed to do so.

This position is supported by the Council of Europe and UNESCO.

26 November 2002.