Fair VAT on e-publications for the academic community
Responsible department: Her Majesty's Treasury
Universities and colleges are obliged to pay VAT at the full standard rate, currently 20%, on their subscriptions to electronic academic journals, books, newspapers and magazines. Printed versions of these resources are zero-rated in the UK; in the rest of the EU VAT is applied at the reduced rate, currently 5%. E-publications are greener, save valuable storage space and offer increased availability for the majority of users. They should be treated in the same way for VAT as printed publications. This VAT burden means that libraries have less to spend on electronic publications and makes it very difficult for them to move towards e-provision. We urge our government to do one of two things; 1. Introduce zero-rated VAT on electronic academic publications or 2. If it is not feasible to add electronic publications to the list of zero-rated goods then to follow other European countries and apply VAT at the reduced rate now and consider reducing this to 0% as soon as possible.