Global Survey of VAT on E-books

The International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) have carried out a global survey of the levels of Value-Added Tax (VAT), in some countries known as the Goods & Services Tax (GST), currently being applied to printed books and e-books. The survey also quantifies the extent of reduced-rating or zero-rating on e-books allowed by various tax regimes. It reveals wide contrasts between print and digital, as well as between nations and between regions.

The IPA and FEP interviewed representatives of 79 countries (36 in Europe, 13 in Asia, 13 in Africa, 9 in Latin America, 5 in the Middle East, and one each in Canada, Australia and New Zealand). The United States was not included in the survey, as each state has its own individual sales tax regime.

Worldwide, only 22% of countries apply the standard rate of VAT to printed books, while 69% apply standard VAT to e-books. 37 countries apply the same rate of VAT/GST to print and e-books. 35 countries apply a higher rate of VAT/GST to e-books than to print.

The average VAT/GST rate applied to printed books is 5.75%.The average VAT/GST rate applied to e-books is 12.25%. Chile is the only Latin American country not to apply zero-rating VAT to printed books. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country which applies standard VAT to printed books.

Standard VAT rates in Asia, at an average of 8.6%, are significantly lower than in Europe (21%).

The majority of African countries surveyed (8 out of 13) apply zero-rate VAT to printed books. Denmark applies the highest VAT rate of any country on printed books (25%). Hungary applies the highest VAT rate of any country on e-books (27%).

The full report may be found at www.internationalpublishers.org/images/VAT2015.pdf