Toubon confident over French VAT cut on e-books

Toubon confident over French VAT cut on e-books

Former French culture minister Jacques Toubon has said he has high hopes that France will be able to cut VAT on e-books from 19.6% to 5.5% next January as planned without triggering the wrath of the European Commission.

Speaking at a recent conference in Paris about the future of books after the digital revolution, he said "we have a chance, even a very good chance" the cut will be accepted, according to trade magazine Livres Hebdo.

However, online trade newsletter Actualitté said Toubon was less optimistic in the wings of the conference. He said "it will be difficult" to gain European Commission approval. The European Parliament is expected to vote in favour of a cut at the end of October, Toubon said.

The French decision to go ahead with the cut comes as the Commission is working on a plan to overhaul the EU’s VAT system in 2015. Devised more than 40 years ago, the system "no longer reflects the needs of a service-driven, technology-based, modern economy" and now entails "unnecessary costs and burdens for taxpayers and administrations", the Commission said when it launched a consultation on the issue last December.

Also in December, French president Nicolas Sarkozy commissioned Toubon to lobby France’s 26 European Union partners, the European Commission and Parliament to introduce a reduced VAT rate for all electronic cultural goods and services sold across the EU.