In the EU-27, while 92.6% of the countries surveyed apply a special VAT treatment to printed books (in most cases a reduced VAT rate), only 7.4% apply a zero VAT rate (UK and Ireland).
In Latin America, while 50% of the countries surveyed apply a VAT/GST exemption to (a selection of) printed books, only 25% apply a 0% VAT/GST rate to printed books. And 12.5% apply a mix of a VAT/GST exemption and a zero VAT/GST rate.
In the case of a VAT/GST exemption, publishers, as final consumers, cannot claim a VAT refund on the supplies of goods or services needed to produce books. As a result VAT/ GST becomes a production cost, which automatically increases the price of books. A zero VAT/GST rate on books is therefore preferable to a VAT exemption. A zero rate provides the necessary support for the entire publishing chain, from author to publishers, bookshops and libraries. As the zero rating of books makes people more eager to buy books, it is one of the most effective ways of promoting book culture, literacy and reading. As a result, it is very likely to have a positive effect on cultural and educational policy, freedom of expression, and the creation of new independent publishing businesses. Ultimately, a zero VAT/GST rate means the creation of jobs and the development of a knowledge economy. This reasoning also applies to e-books, which should therefore be equally supported.