Petition: VAT on e-publications

I’ve been asked by Prof. Monica Grady to pass on the following message and urge you to sign the petition to which it refers. I am happy to do so, for reasons which should be obvious. I’ve even signed it myself!


Universities and colleges are currently 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.

A minimum 100,000 signatures are needed for the topic to be considered for debate in the House of Commons. Any British Citizen or UK resident can sign: you will need to provide your name, address and email address.

Sign by clicking  here. The full link in case you wish to copy it and send it to friends or colleagues is:

You can follow the campaign on Twitter #fairVAT4epubs

2 Responses to “Petition: VAT on e-publications”

  1. Monica Grady Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m not usually one for petitions, but for me this is a matter of several principles (books should be available as a right for everyone, libraries are one of the most important assets that a society owns, academic libraries have a crucial role in institutions of learning). It is also a matter of common sense.

  2. “in the rest of the EU VAT is applied at the reduced rate, currently 5%.”

    This sounds like the rate is 5% everywhere in the rest of the EU. Is that what this sentence is supposed to say? Is it correct? (I’m pretty sure there are only two rates in Germany, 19% and 7%. I don’t know which one electronic publications have. Newspapers and magazines (including pornography) have the reduced rate.

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