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News story

The campaign to Axe The Reading Tax succeeds!

12 Mar 2020

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Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the government would be abolishing tax on e-books from December this year.

This is a fantastic achievement from the Axe the Reading Tax campaign run by the Publishers Association, of which we are a key member.

Our research report, Children, young people and digital reading, found that that both reading in print and on screens benefits children’s literacy. It found that nearly one in four pupils on free school meals read fiction digitally, compared to one in six of their peers who are not eligible for free school meals.

This research was linked in the Budget, showing how our research and insight has successfully changed government policy.

The government will now introduce legislation which will make it clear that e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines and academic e-journals are entitled to the same VAT treatment as their physical counterparts. They expect the publishing industry, including e-booksellers, to pass on the benefit of this relief to consumers.

The Axe the Reading Tax campaign has held a number of high profile campaign activity which has led to this change. As part of this, former Blue Peter presenter and children’s author Konnie Huq led a delegation to 11 Downing Street to hand in a letter signed by 90 MPs calling for VAT on digital books to be scrapped. Our Chief Executive Jonathan Douglas joined Konnie to present the letter.

It is fantastic to see that the work of everyone involved in the Axe the Reading Tax campaign has been recognised, and more importantly that pupils who favour reading digitally will benefit.

If you're interested in finding out more about reading on screens, you can sign up to our next Reading for Pleasure On and With Screens training.

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