Reduced VAT rate for e-publications

Briefing 19-12-2018

The fact that print and digital publications have been subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable have been treated differently to one another. This situation resulted from rules which, on the one hand, allowed Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other excluded this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT on digital services should be levied in the Member State where the consumer is based (thus protecting the single market from application of different rates within a Member State because of the different location of providers). The question of broadening the possibility to apply reduced rates to all publications, be they print or digital, was addressed as part of the VAT digital single market package. The amendment to the VAT directive was adopted by the Council on 6 November 2018, after the European Parliament had delivered its opinion on 1 June 2017. The new rules allow Member States to apply the reduced rate to e-publications, as from 4 December 2018.