Government brings forward the VAT zero-rating of certain supplies of e-publications due to coronavirus pandemic

The Government has made the Value Added Tax (Extension of Zero-Rating to Electronically Supplied Books etc.) (Coronavirus) Order 2020 to bring forward the zero-rating of certain supplies of e-publications to 1 May 2020.

At Budget 2020, the Government announced that it would zero rate certain supplies of e-publications with effect from 1 December 2020 to support literacy and reading in all its forms. However, following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the need for people to stay at home, the Government has brought forward the implementation date to 1 May 2020. This is intended to reduce the cost of access to online publications during these challenging times when many people are confined to their homes and schools are closed.

With effect from 1 May 2020, electronic supplies of the following products listed below are zero-rated:

  • books;
  • booklets;
  • brochures;
  • pamphlets;
  • leaflets;
  • newspapers;
  • journals and periodicals (including magazines); and
  • children’s picture and painting books.

E-publications that are wholly or predominantly devoted to advertising or to audible or video content are excluded. The Explanatory Memorandum states that the exclusions for audible music and video content are necessary to comply with Council Directive (EU) 2018/1713. The sale of e-audio books continues to be standard-rated in UK law in line with government policy. To access the legislation, click here.