Almost two-thirds (63%) of people in the UK support axing VAT on paid-for digital publications, according to new research by ComRes.
This includes two-thirds (66%) of those who voted for the Conservative party in the last election, and 62% of those who voted for Labour – as well as a resounding 72% of those aged 55 and over.
British public: majority say it is ‘unreasonable’ to tax digital publications
Paid-for digital publications, including eBooks, audiobooks, journals and newspaper subscriptions, are currently taxed at 20%. Print publications have never had VAT applied to them because successive British governments have sought to avoid a tax on reading which would act as a barrier to knowledge.
Most Britons (68%) say they did not know that they pay VAT on digital publications, but not on printed equivalents.
A majority of British adults think it is unreasonable for the NHS (70%), schools and universities (68%), or students (68%) to be charged VAT on the digital publications they buy.
This costs public sector organisations, including government departments, more than £55m per year, according to independent analysis from Frontier Economics.
EU ruling gives Chancellor obligation to act
Until earlier this month, the UK government was required to levy VAT on digital publications under European law. A recent decision in Brussels means the path is now clear for the Chancellor to axe the tax in next week’s Budget.
Doing so could put up to £210m back into the pockets of UK consumers, half of which (53%) read paid-for digital publications.
Reducing the price of digital publications by removing the tax could also drive a 10% increase in sales – providing a boost for UK publishers and authors.