Martin Whitfield MP has become a parliamentary supporter of the Axe the Reading Tax  campaign which is aiming to abolish VAT on e-publications.

Axe the Reading Tax is supported by a coalition of backers, including the Publishers Association, and is campaigning to end the anomaly that sees e-publications subject to VAT, when the physical forms of the same books and news sources are quite rightly VAT free.

VAT on physical books and newspapers has always been zero-rated to safeguard access to knowledge and the free exchange of ideas. However, this principle has not been extended to eBooks and online news subscriptions, which is unfair to the large numbers of people who now read digitally.

The campaign believes that VAT on e-publications is illogical and an impediment to childhood literacy. Research shows that 45% of children prefer to read digitally and that young people from low-income households are more likely to read digitally than their more advantaged peers.

People with disabilities are also disproportionately affected by this tax. In particular, it hits blind and partially sighted people who listen to audiobooks or alter print size. It is vital that we protect access to learning whatever format people choose or need to use.

Speaking about his support for the campaign, Martin Whitfield MP said:

“The Axe the Reading Tax campaign is highlighting an unfair historic anomaly that is potentially damaging the life chances of our children and young people, especially some of the most vulnerable in society.

“As a former primary school teacher I know the challenges schools and parents face in encouraging children to develop a love of reading. This tax is just another barrier which should not be there.

“Changes to EU law mean that the UK Government now has the power to right this wrong and promote equal access to reading and learning for all by applying a zero-rate of VAT to digital publications. I hope they will act sooner rather than later to end this unfair anomaly.”

Find out more about the campaign at www.axethereadingtax.org