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Our brands now reach more readers than ever but readers of our digital magazines are penalised by an outdated VAT system.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