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VAT on e-publications scrapped seven months early

Move expected to be a boost to publishers, readers and authors

Plans to scrap VAT on electronic publications, including academic journals, in December have been fast-tracked and are now in place.

The government said its goal was “to make entertainment more affordable for readers who are rightly staying at home during the coronavirus crisis—and are more reliant on e-publications as a result”.

But the move, first announced at the budget in March, is also likely to benefit university libraries purchasing online academic journals, and help the publishing industry.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people across the UK to get hold of the books they want while they are staying at home and saving lives,” said chancellor Rishi Sunak. “That is why we have fast-tracked plans to scrap VAT on all e-publications, which will make it cheaper for publishers to sell their books, magazines and newspapers.”

Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said: “This is a boost to publishers, readers and authors, which is especially important at this difficult time. We hope it will enable more people to easily access and benefit from the comfort, entertainment and knowledge that books provide.”

In March, Rob Johnson, director of Research Consulting, said the abolition of VAT on electronic publications “should yield real savings for UK academic libraries” and could “create additional financial headroom to support the transition to open access publishing”.