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France guidance on media reduced VAT rates

  • VAT
  • 11 May 2014 | Richard Asquith

France guidance on media reduced VAT rates

Following the January 2014 increase in French VAT to 20%, the tax office has issued additional guidance on the reduced VAT rates for media content.

The reduced 5.5% rate will apply to the admission charges for: cinema; theatre; live concerts; music and singing recitals. Adult, violent or pornography films and entertainment will be subject to the standard French VAT rate of 20%.

At the time of the standard VAT rise, the old 7% VAT rate (that the above services were subject to) was withdrawn. Most goods on this rate were reclassified to a new 10%. France retained the existing 5.5% reduced rate, although there was a failed attempt to cut the French reduced 5.5% rate to 5%. Goods such house improvements were moved to the French 10% VAT rate.

The EU VAT Directive, which France is obliged to adopt into its local tax code, permits a single standard rate for most goods which must be at least 15%. Contrary to common belief, there is no upper limit. It also allows for two reduced rates for certain basic goods, the lower of which must be at least 5%.  However, a number of EU member states operate more rates.  For example, France has a 2.1% VAT rate for some goods, including newspapers and pharmaceuticals.


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 is part of the European leadership team which this year won International Tax Review's Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard qualified as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.