DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Education & Skills)Richard Burton by Deputy Darragh O'Brien,for WRITTEN ANSWER on 12/07/2016
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to abolish Value Added Tax on
education books bought on e-readers; and if he will make a statement on the
Reply: Minister Richard Bruton
I have consulted my colleague the Minister for Finance on this matter. The VAT
rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of the EU VAT
Directive with which Irish VAT law must comply. The VAT Directive provides that
all goods and services are liable to VAT at the standard rate, currently 23% in
Ireland, unless there is a provision in the VAT Directive that permits a lower
rate. The EU VAT Directive does not make provision for a reduction in the VAT
rate to e-books.
Any changes to VAT rates outside of what is currently permitted by the EU VAT
Directive must be negotiated at EU technical working groups and ultimately
agreed by the EU Council of Finance Ministers. The EU Commission recently
published an Action Plan on the future of VAT "Towards a single EU VAT Area -
Time to decide", which sets out the Commission's pathway for modernising the
VAT system and contains a proposal in 2016 to remove VAT obstacles to
cross-border e-commerce including e-publications and in 2017 there is a
proposal to look at VAT rate policy across the EU.
The Action Plan's proposals may offer Member States more flexibility in the
future in determining VAT rates applicable to goods and services. This forum
will provide an opportunity to discuss VAT rates applicable to goods and
services including e-books as referred to by the Deputy. However, the Deputy
will be aware that any proposed changes to the current EU VAT Directive would
require unanimous agreement from all Member States.
The concerns of my Department have also been brought to the attention of the
Department of Finance.
The new Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 (Enhancing Teaching, Learning &
Assessment), launched in October 2015, sets out a clear vision for the role of
ICT in teaching, learning and assessment in primary and post primary schools.
The Strategy is focused on realising the potential of digital technologies to
transform the learning experiences of students by helping them become engaged
thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens who
participate fully in society and the economy.
Under this Strategy, my Department is committed to considering all options that
will facilitate the process of embedding ICT in Teaching, Learning and
Assessment, and the role of e-books will be considered in that context. In
particular the Strategy seeks to engage with publishers on the provision of
digital content and services to support the curriculum, and to raise awareness
regarding the potential under the book grant scheme to purchase a range of