Introducing Reduced VAT Rates for Digital Products

Digital products, or electronically supplied services as they are officially called, are gaining attention with more governments across the EU. Several member states have a reduced VAT rate for eBooks or audiobooks. Here’s what you need to know.

Finance ministers in the EU are set to take the bloc’s tax rules further into the digital age by allowing reduced value added tax (VAT) on eBooks and other digital publications.

Several years of campaigning to get eBooks taxed at the same rate as printed books in the EU has finally paid off. Since at least 2015, the industry began pressuring the EU to adopt a lowered tax rate for digitally supplied books. Publishers are now asking the UK to also lower its tax on eBooks, which are currently at 20% (while printed books are not taxed at all).

The following VAT changes for digital products are in effect (with a few member states imposing conditions). EU member states have a dedicated goods and services category for eBooks and audiobooks.

Country Category VAT Rate Change
Belgium (BE) eBooks Reduced Rate 6%
Croatia (HR) eBooks Reduced Rate 5%
Finland (FI) eBooks Reduced Rate 10%
France (FR) eBooks Reduced Rate 5.5%1
Periodicals Reduced Rate 2.1%2
Ireland (IE) eBooks Reduced Rate 9%
Ireland (IE) Audiobooks Reduced Rate 9%
eBooks Reduced Rate 9%
Periodicals Reduced Rate 9%
Italy (IT) eBooks Reduced Rate 4%3
Lithuania (LT) eBooks Reduced Rate 5%
Luxembourg (LU) eBooks Reduced Rate 3%
Malta (MT) eBooks Reduced Rate 5%
Poland (PL) eBooks Reduced Rate 5%
Portugal (PT) eBooks Reduced Rate 6%
Sweden (SE) Audiobooks Reduced Rate 6%
eBooks Reduced Rate 6%
Periodicals Reduced Rate 6%
1 20% applied to books, newspapers and periodicals containing mainly publicity, private advertisements, obscene or pornographic material. 2 eNewspapers. 3 4% only for eBooks which have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), otherwise the standard rate of 22% applies.

You can review official EU VAT rates in the Taxud.c.1 (2019) PDF published by the European Commission. Vatstack continues to observe future developments of VAT rate changes in the digital products category.

More Countries Plan to Reduce Rates in 2020

Several more countries in the EU are expected to reduce rates on eBooks. Here’s the list of changes we know of so far:

Country Category VAT Rate Change Date
Austria (AT) eBooks Reduced Rate 10% 2020-01-01
Czech Republic (CZ) eBooks Reduced Rate 10% 2020-05-01
Germany (DE) eBooks Reduced Rate 7% 2020-01-01
Netherlands (NL) eBooks Reduced Rate 9% 2020-01-01
Slovenia (SI) eBooks Reduced Rate 9.5% 2020-01-01
Spain (ES) eBooks Reduced Rate 4% 2020-01-01

New “Reduced Rates” Field in API

The Vatstack API now features a categories field containing the ebook and audiobook category. It allows you to apply the correct VAT rate for your specific type of digital product. If you pass the price and category parameters in your query, you can even let the API do the entire calculation for you. Visit our API documentation to learn how to look up VAT rates by country code.

We plan to add more categories that are relevant for digital products as time progresses and as lawmakers introduce corresponding VAT rates across the EU.

If you want to show and apply the correct VAT rate for digital products during your customer’s checkout process, you can even geolocate your customer by their IP address.