The UK’s Publishers Association has once again called for the British government to scrap the 20% VAT rate for ebooks. While print books in the UK have a 0% VAT rate, ebooks get charged the full whack and some see that as both unfair and as a restriction on the popularity of this new medium.
As Publishing Perspectives notes, part of the problem is that EU legislation makes certain demands regarding VAT and, in particular, distinguishes between physical and digital items. Some countries, such as France and Luxembourg, have found ways around this problem, but the UK has stuck to the 20% ebook rate despite campaigns in the past for a change.
The European Commission’s current deliberations on possible VAT changes are rumbling along but aren’t likely to appear before the latter half of 2013. So it’s likely that the British government will wait at least that long before making any kind of change. Despite the relatively high VAT rate, though, ebook sales in the UK remain strong and many retailers take advantage of the low French and Luxembourg rates to offer better deals to customers throughout the union.