Minister for Finance
Fiscal Policy Division
Ref: Removal, or reduction, of VAT on eBooks
I write to you on behalf of the Irish Educational Publishers’ Association seeking the removal of 23% VAT on digital school books, or at least a significant reduction in the applied rate.
IEPA comprises the companies to the fore in publishing education books in Ireland including Celtic Press, CJ Fallon, Folens, Forum Publications, Gill & Macmillan, Mentor Books, The Educational Company of Ireland, Educate.ie, Foras na Gaeilge and Veritas.
IEPA members can offer major discounts of between 20% and 35% on educational eBooks because there is no print or warehousing costs. This brings about substantial savings for buyers but the VAT charge of 23% effectively negates the benefit of the discount offered by publishers.
The decision to tax eBooks – all other Irish text books are not liable for VAT – seems to fly in the face of Government policy to encourage the use of technology in the classroom. The Government has also invested millions of euro into Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in recent years, but this investment will not see any return unless pupils and teachers are using ICT actively in the classroom and at home.
This is not happening and hard-pressed parents, who had hoped that the move to online resources would mean savings, are now faced with the additional financial barrier of 23% VAT. This comes on top of €500 average charge for I Pads which store eBooks. For many parents this will mean that online options are not affordable and clearly then the Government investment will have been wasted.
I look forward to hearing from you and assure you of my willingness to assist in resolving these barriers to technological engagement in education.
General Secretary IEPA