Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish is backing calls for the Chancellor to cut the ‘illogical’ tax on eBooks and audiobooks – to promote childhood literacy.
He signed an open letter to Sajid Javid during an event hosted by the Axe the Reading Tax Campaign. Staged to mark International Literacy Day, the campaign is calling for the removal of the 20 per cent tax on all digital books.
Mr Parish said: ‘‘I am delighted to join the Axe the Reading Tax Campaign today in Parliament to call on the Chancellor to end the illogical 20 per cent tax on eBooks.
“We should be doing everything we can to promote reading and learning amongst children and young people in Tiverton and Honiton constituency. This tax must be abolished in order to protect access to reading, learning and knowledge for all.”
At the end of last year, the EU Council changed the law to allow member states to reduce the rate of VAT on digital reading materials to bring it in line with printed formats.
Countries that have already made this change include Ireland, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Belgium and Portugal.
The Honiton MP called on the Government to end the tax anomaly.
Mr Parish believes the tax acts as a barrier to childhood literacy, with research from the National Literacy Trust showing that 45 per cent of children preferring to read on a digital device and that reading on both digital and print formats offers the highest benefit for young people’s literacy.
He pointed out that young people from low income backgrounds are also more likely to read digitally than their more advantaged peers.
The ‘unfair tax’ also disproportionately hits those who struggle to see or handle print books and require digital formats to read, such as the estimated 2 million living with sight loss in the UK.