Axe the Reading Tax: the next step

With the next Budget due to be announced on 11 March 2020, now is the time to play your part in our Axe the Reading Tax campaign.

Last month, we urged all writers to sign an open letter calling for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to axe the levying of VAT on ebooks in line with the 0% tax on printed books. This month, we’re urging writers to go one step further: we would like you to write directly to your MP, asking them to raise this vital issue.

About the campaign

The Axe the Reading Tax campaign is lobbying for the removal of 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

Now, we’re asking writers to contact their MPs, urging them to write to the Chancellor and call for the end to the tax on digital publications. It’s quick and easy to do – just enter your postcode and the rest is filled out for you.


I am writing to you as a local constituent to ask if you might feel able to write to the Chancellor to call on him to Axe the Reading Tax on digital publications in the next Budget on 11 March.

Did you know that printed books, magazines and newspapers have always rightly had a zero-rate of VAT applied to them, but their digital equivalents are subject to 20% VAT? I believe this is illogical and unfair.

Ever since the UK’s VAT regime was established in the 1970s, it was recognised that books and knowledge are essential to people’s lives and applying tax to them is wrong. This long-standing belief has helped ensure that reading and learning remains affordable and accessible to people of all ages, incomes and abilities.

According to research from the National Literacy Trust, over 45% of children prefer to read on a digital device and young people on free school meals are more likely to read digitally than their more advantaged peers. Furthermore, this tax disproportionately impacts vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities, who may need audiobooks or e-readers that can be used to alter print size.

I would be grateful if you felt able to support the campaign to end this illogical tax by writing to the Chancellor. For a draft letter or further information on the campaign please email


Yours sincerely,


Support the campaign here.