VATLive > Blog > Europe > 2018 EU Harmonised e-publications VAT rates

2018 Harmonised e-publications VAT rates

  • Mar 4, 2020 | Richard Asquith

In October 2018, the EU Council agreed to allow member states to apply reduced or zero VAT rates to electronic publication income. It is part of the EU Action Plan for VAT and other reforms.

This includes e-books, online newspapers or periodicals and audio books. The measure is applied temporarily, pending the agreement and implementation of the Definitive VAT System 

States progress on implementing the new freedoms

To date, the following member states have implemented or announced implementation of reduced rates on electronic publications:

Country                      Existing/old rate          New rate       Implementation

Austria                        20%                               10%                1 Jan 2020

Belgium                      21%                               6%                  1 Apr 2019

Croatia                        25%                               5%                  1 Jan 2019

Czech Republic           21%                               10%                1 May 2020

Finland                       24%                               10%                1 Jul 2019

Germany                    19%                               7%                  1 Jan 2020

Ireland                        23%                               9%                  1 Jan 2019

Luxembourg               17%                               3%                  1 Jan 2019

Malta                          18%                               5%                  1 Jan 2019

Netherlands               21%                               9%                  1 Jan 2020

Norway (non-EU)       25%                               0%                  1 Jul 2019

Poland                        23%                               5%                  1 Nov 2019

Portugal                      23%                               6%                  1 Jan 2019

Slovenia                      22%                               5%                  1 Jan 2020

Sweden                      25%                               6%                  1 July 2019

Previously, member states had to levy their standard, VAT rates on e-books and online news journals. Only specific goods listed within Annex III of the EU VAT Directive may benefit from reduced rates. E-books and similar digital products had not been created at the time of the drawing-up of Annex III, and so were excluded. The right to reduce VAT rates on such products comes after many failed ECJ appeals to change the interpretation of the VAT Directive.

VP Global Indirect Tax
Richard Asquith
VP Global Indirect Tax Richard Asquith
Richard Asquith is VP Global Indirect Tax at Avalara, helping businesses understand their compliance obligations as they grow globally. He can be contacted at: He is part of the European leadership team which won International Tax Review's 2020 Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard trained as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.
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