VAT on Sale of Ebooks

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.

17 March 2015

If you are a self-publisher and are selling ebooks or other digitised materials, beware the new VAT implications – more below.  Those wanting to register for VAT MOSS should have done so by 8 February 2015.  If this applies to you and you have not yet registered, further guidance is given here.

Businesses, including self-publishing authors, who supply digital services (including ebooks) to buyers in other EU countries have been affected by changes in the VAT rules.

Business-to-business sales of ebooks are unaffected, but as from 1 January 2015, on digital products such as ebooks sold to private purchasers, VAT is due in the country of the buyer. This potentially obliges sellers compulsorily to register for VAT in each country where they make sales.

Some online retailers, such as Amazon, are undertaking in this context to act as ‘publisher’ for self-published ebooks and to shoulder responsibility for the VAT burden.  Where that is not the case, and if you are selling direct, you can register for the VAT Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) and thereby avoid having to register for VAT in every EU country where you sell direct to consumers. Before registering for VAT MOSS you need to be VAT registered. If you are not already VAT registered and your UK turnover (excluding MOSS transactions) is below the VAT registration threshold (currently £81,000), you can register purely for VAT for the MOSS scheme in isolation and there will be no need to charge or account for VAT on any other supplies. You are also advised to consider selling via an online shopping cart which is set up to handle the new VAT requirements. Two such are www.taxamo.com and www.e-junkie.com. Also see FreeAgent.

Note: if you decide not to register for MOSS you may have liabilities to register for VAT in other EU countries and that could lead to difficulties in the future.

For further information on MOSS requirements on record keeping, VAT returns and paperwork, see here or contact the SoA. We thank Barry Kernon, the SoA’s Hon Treasurer, for his help.

The SoA will continue to lobby in the UK and Brussels for all books, printed and ebook, to be zero-rated for VAT across the EU.

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