In a new proposal, the European Commission suggests identical rules for value-added tax (VAT) on print and digital papers and books. Norway abolished VAT on digital news in March this year, but what is the situation in the other Nordic countries? Nordicom has mapped the VAT rates for the media sectors in the five Nordic countries.
In all the Nordic countries, the media are financially supported through lower or zero VAT rates. Print media, TV/radio licence fees and cinema tickets often have lower or zero VAT, while digital versions of newspapers, magazines and books are subject to standard VAT - with the exception of Norway, where digital news is VAT-exempt from March 1, 2016. In Denmark, which stands out with no differentiated tax levels, all media except print newspapers have full VAT.
Only newspapers have low VAT in all Nordic countries
Print newspapers comprise the only medium with a lower VAT level in all countries. Iceland and Sweden have a lower VAT rate on all newspaper sales, while Finland has lower VAT on subscriptions to newspapers and magazines but the standard rate on single-copy sales.
In Denmark newspapers are exempt from VAT, but must pay a fee calculated based on revenue from print newspaper sales. In Norway newspapers are also without VAT, which since March 2016 also applies to online news.
EU makes platform-neutral VAT possible
VAT on digital products, such as online magazines and e-books, is governed by EU rules. On December 1st, the European Commission presented a proposal to allow member states to align the rates for e-publications with those for printed publications. The proposal is part of a review of the entire VAT system in the EU, to be completed in 2017.
Download Nordicom’s overview (from the table database):
Value added tax rates for media in the Nordic countries 1997-2017 (excel)
European Commission: Commission proposes new tax rules to support e-commerce and online businesses in the EU (01/12/2016)
European Commission: Action Plan on VAT
Ministry of Finance in Norway: News 19/02/2016 (in Norwegian)