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EU to lower VAT rates on electronic books, newspapers and publications

e-book VAT rate harmonised with paper equivalents

The Council of the European Union has today agreed to permit member states to reduce the Value Added Tax rates on income from e-books and electronic publications. Previously, only printed books and press listed in Annex III of the EU VAT Directive could enjoy reduced VAT rates.

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Directive modified until Definitive VAT System implemented

The directive will allow member states that so wish to apply reduced VAT rates to electronic publications as well. Super-reduced and zero rates will only be allowed for member states that currently apply them to ‘physical’ publications.

The new rules will apply temporarily, pending the introduction of a new, definitive VAT system. The Commission has issued proposals for the new system, which would allow member states more flexibility than at present in setting VAT rates.

EU VAT reforms

Reform (click for details) Update
2025 VAT registration thresholds equivalence foreign businesses On track
Virtual events VAT rule changes Agreed
2024 Payment providers' seller transaction reporting and bookkeeping obligations On track
Digital Reporting Requirements (DRR), e-invoicing and live transaction reporting Implementation of VAT in the Digital Age?
2023 DAC 7 - marketplace reporting obligations on sellers' activities On track
Financial Services VAT exemption reform proposals Consultation complete; proposal 2023
Tour operator margin scheme VAT reforms EC undertaking fresh review
2022 EU definitive VAT system Member states not agreed on format
EU reduced VAT rate freedoms Enter into force 6 April 2022
IOSS reforms to prevent double taxation Proposals early 2022
VAT in the Digital Age proposals On track for Q3 2022 detailed proposal
Single EU VAT registration - extension of OSS for B2B and B2C On track for Q3 2022 detailed proposal
Proposal for VAT treatment of the platform economy On track for Q3 2022 detailed proposal
VAT Gap Initiative Q3 2022
2021 One-Stop-Shop (OSS) single EU VAT return In effect
Ending €22 import VAT exemption; new IOSS return In effect
Marketplace deemed supplier EU VAT reforms In effect
2020 EU four Quick Fixes for VAT In effect
Tax authorities anti-VAT fraud cooperation In effect
Tax Action Plan - 25 VAT and other tax reforms roadmap See 'VAT in the Digital Age' and others
2019 Simplification of e-services VAT compliance and thresholds In effect
Single and multi-use vouchers In effect
2018 Lower e-book and publications VAT rates In effect, although not all EU states have adopted the option
EU Generalised Domestic Reverse Charge VAT Mechanism In effect, although no country has adopted this voluntary option
2015 B2C electronic services VAT reforms - MOSS return In effect

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