Leading editors call on Chancellor to axe the “reading tax”

In a letter to The Times newspaper, published yesterday, leading magazine editors have called on Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to axe what they describe as the “reading tax” in his Budget next week.

Leading editors call on Chancellor to axe the “reading tax”

The Professional Publishers Association (PPA) has mounted a campaign “#AxeTheReadingTax” following a change of rules in Brussels regarding VAT rates. The EU VAT Directive restricts the use of reduced VAT rates by Member States, which until now prohibited Treasury extending the zero-rate for printed magazines, books and newspapers to their digital editions; but Finance Ministers adopted proposals earlier this month to allow platform agnostic application of reduced rates for publications.

The letter reads:

Sir –

As the Editors of some of the UK’s most popular magazines, collectively read by one in seven of the population each month, our publications range from politics, current affairs, entertainment, retail, to fashion.

Our brands now reach more readers than ever but readers of our digital magazines are penalised by an outdated VAT system.

Consumers have long understood that printed magazines are charged zero VAT, whereas it comes as a surprise to most that the same quality journalism in digital editions is hit with a 20% VAT charge which goes straight into government coffers. This is simply unfair: it disproportionately affects our younger readers and those with accessibility requirements.

As Ofcom recently confirmed, the pages of our magazines are the most trusted by consumers to deliver quality, accuracy and trustworthiness - regardless of format.

In an era of fake news and with low literacy rates holding back the economy by £2.5bn a year, the Chancellor should use his budget next week to axe this unfair digital reading tax.


Kath Brown, Editor, woman&home

Trish Halpin, Editor-in-Chief, Marie Claire

Richard Headland, Editor-in-Chief, Which?

Gaby Huddart, Editor-in-Chief, Good Housekeeping

Dylan Jones, Editor-in-Chief, GQ

Adam Leyland, Editor, The Grocer

Mark Frith, Editorial Director, Radio Times

Caroline Law, Editor, The Week

Barry McIlheney, CEO, PPA

Paul McNamee, Chairman, PPA Scotland

Alex Mead, Chair, British Society of Magazine Editors

Rosie Nixon, Editor-In-Chief, HELLO! Magazine

Vanessa Richmond, Editorial Director, Ideal Home

Sarah Spiteri, Editorial Director, LivingETC

Farrah Storr, Editor-in-Chief, Cosmopolitan

Charlie Turner, Editor-in-Chief, BBC TopGear

Terri White, Editor-in-Chief, EMPIRE