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Germany downloadable audio books 19% VAT


Germany downloadable audio books 19% VAT

The German Ministry of Finance has confirmed that audio books via downloads are subject to the standard German VAT rate of 19%. This compares to physical books, which benefit from being levied at the 7% reduced VAT rate.

Audio books provided by other physical means, e.g. CD, DVS, memory sticks etc, are subject to the reduced VAT rate.

The ruling comes since downloads are treated as an electronic service, and not a physical provision of a book. It is this last element that distinguishes a printed book from an e-book.

Where the audio book is provided as a blended supply with the printed book, the vendor is required to split the consideration to be applied to the 19% and 7%. However, the German tax authorities will not require this until 2016, and the supply will be considered as ancillary for VAT, and the total consideration liable to only 7% VAT.

E-book VAT rates in European Union

Germany, along with the UK, is attempting to block a number of countries attempting to have e-books subject to the reduced VAT rates. Italy recently changed e-books to only 4% VAT from 22%. Malta reduce e-book VAT rates to only 5%.


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.