Will the UK carry on taxing books?

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The bitter battle between eBooks and hardcopy novels contains in the UK where consideration is being given to scrap sales tax on eBooks. To be clear, I am based in the UK and have some skin in this game.

I believe books should not be taxed as they contain knowledge and ideas. And I think there should never have been VAT applied to eBooks, whatever their format.  This does have the consequence that, should it be removed, online retailers will find their prices fall as they should be pricing net of VAT. This in theory will create a level playing field – not that the field is truly level.

Online platforms in the UK enjoy tax benefits by not having to pay high levels of business rates compared to retailers who do need high street space. Some of them also have unusual corporate structures where billed sales don’t appear to land in the country common sense indicates they will.

So, let’s start with sales tax and then the UK government should put a lot more effort to deal with the other tax issues. Right now I only sell online in part because bricks-and-mortar book sellers are few and far between and reducing in numbers all the time. And I don’t think that’s right.

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