Axe the Reading tax campaign: we need your help

In October 2019, a group of representatives from the Axe the Reading Tax campaign delivered a letter calling for the Chancellor to axe the levying of VAT on ebooks, in line with the 0% tax on printed books. ALCS is a strong supporter of this campaign and we’re urging our members to get involved with the next step.

We’re encouraging our members to add their names to an open letter from UK authors, calling for the reading tax to be abolished. The letter, organised by the Axe the Reading Tax campaign will be released publicly ahead of the Budget in March.

About the campaign

The Axe the Reading Tax campaign is lobbying to remove the illogical levy of VAT (currently 20%) on digital publications including ebooks and audiobooks, which creates an unfair disparity in the way digital and printed books are taxed.

The result is that people who need or prefer to use digital reading materials, such as those living with sight loss or another physical disability, are hit by a 20% tax. The tax also disproportionately impacts children and young people – 45% of whom prefer to read digitally – and in particular those from low-income households.

A year ago, the EU gave member states the ability to bring VAT on digital publications in line with the VAT charged on their print counterparts. So far, 18 EU countries have made this change. We think it is time for the UK to catch up.

Do your part

Add your name to the letter being signed by authors across the UK, calling on the Government to remove this illogical tax on reading. You can also share this link with fellow authors to help the cause.


Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,

We are writing to you as authors and book lovers to ask that you remove the tax on ebooks and audiobooks that may prevent young readers, those from low income backgrounds, and those who struggle to read print from experiencing the joys of reading.

Reading is one of the greatest pleasures there is. Books are a passport to other worlds, to other ways of life. They help people develop empathy, offer comfort, inspire and challenge. It is vital that everybody can access the joy and opportunity of reading; regardless of their age, income or physical capability. VAT is rightly not applied to print books and digital formats should be treated in the same way.

Young people are increasingly reading using phones, ereaders and audio devices. Digital formats can enable reluctant readers to engage with, and benefit from, books. There are many people in the UK who are living with a visual impairment or a disability that prevents them from being able to use print books who are taxed unfairly by this policy.

For these reasons, we urge you to remove the 20% tax on digital reading. This will help to ensure that those people who prefer or need to read digitally have the same access to books – and all the pleasure and benefits that they bring – as everyone else.

Yours Sincerely,


Support the campaign here.