The Publishers Association is calling for all political parties to commit to abolishing "unjust" tax on e-books, which it has branded "a tax on learning".
In its manifesto published today (12th May), comprising a five-point plan how to build on the success of the UK publishing industry, it said VAT on e-publications should be reduced to 0% to match the rate for printed books.
It follows new PA president Lis Tribe's comments at the organisation's a.g.m. at the end of April, in which she VAT-free e-books would be a priority this year.
PA chief executive Stephen Lotinga called the status quo a "totally unfair" situation.
“When VAT was first introduced politicians were absolutely clear that it should not apply to books so that it didn’t discourage reading and learning," said Lotinga. "The development of technology has led to the totally unfair situation where those who choose to read digital publications are penalised by the taxman. This clearly flies in the face of the government’s aim to boost literacy, education and culture. This is an unjust tax on knowledge and should be abolished.”
He added: “With UK publishers contributing £4.8bn to the UK economy and exporting to all around the world, the UK publishing industry is a great British success story. These five measures will ensure not only that this success can continue and grow, but that we as a country are investing in the skills and talent we need for the future”.
The PA is also seeking maximum access to the EU single market and strong free trade agreements; a strong intellectual property framework at home and abroad; all publicly funded schools to dedicate a proportion of their budgets on providing textbooks; and for every school to have a library as part of its manifesto.
You can read more on the subject in an interview with Tribe in this week's issue of The Bookseller.