Zero VAT on audiobooks – lobby your MP

An Early Day Motion has recently been tabled in the House of Commons by Sir Mike Penning MP calling for the Value Added Tax (VAT) on audiobooks to be reduced to zero, as it already is for ebooks. We need you to write to your MP and call on them to support the Motion.

The Motion (No. 893) highlights how audiobooks are particularly helpful to those who are visually impaired or dyslexic in accessing books, opening up a “world of information”. The Motion also points out that other European countries have also reduced the VAT which is applied to audiobooks, such as in Norway where it is now zero. Reducing the VAT on audiobooks and therefore the price will also likely increase sales in royalty payments for authors, increasing the competitiveness in a global market.

The full wording of the motion can be found here.

The Motion has already attracted 22 signatures and has cross party support, with MPs from the Labour Party, Conservative Party, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats all supporting the motion.

What is an Early Day Motion?

Early Day Motion (EDM) is a term used for a motion submitted for a debate for which no date has been fixed. While few EDMs actually get debated they allow Members to draw attention to a topic or to express an opinion. If an EDM can gather a lot of cross party support it can show the Government that there is a strong feeling on the issue across the country and should make them more likely to listen.

Below is some wording you can send to your MP asking them to support the motion. You can find the contact details for your MP here and you should be sure to include your full name and address as MPs will only consider letters and emails sent by their constituents.

Please do let us know if you’ve written to your MP, and more importantly if they’ve replied to say that they will support the motion. Email john@writersguild.org.uk

You can also Tweet about the issue, using the hashtag #ZeroVATonAudiobooks and tagging in @TheWritersGuild

Dear [your MP]

I am writing to you as one of your constituents to ask that you support EDM 893 ‘VAT on audiobooks’.

Audiobooks are now widely available across all genres; from business to academic, from historical to self-help, and they offer a lifeline for many people with sight loss, visual impairment, dyslexia or other reading disabilities.

Audiobooks offer unique opportunities for visually-impaired and dyslexic people to improve their education on a par with their peers and in many cases enable visually-impaired and dyslexic people to continue working independently for longer and thereby contribute to the economy for longer.

Whilst I welcome the zero-rate VAT for ebooks it is also the case that ebooks, when read aloud by automated text-to-speech, are difficult to listen to for long periods. They lack intonation, may mispronounce names and places and can often read out every bracket and notation, making it difficult to comprehend or recall meaning.

Other European countries have recently reduced their rates of VAT on audiobooks (Norway to zero), and I believe the UK should now do the same. By reducing VAT on audiobooks the UK can strengthen its position in a globally competitive marketplace and ensure that authors are able to make money from their work.

Your sincerely

[Your name]

Photo: Reece Lipman @ Chocolate Films