NewsBrands Ireland and Local Ireland join forces to campaign for Zero VAT on print and digital newspapers

The representative bodies for Ireland’s national and local news publlishers, NewsBrands Ireland and Local Ireland, have joined forces to campaign for zero VAT on print and digital newspapers in the forthcoming Budget.

Ireland’s 9% VAT rate for newspapers remains among the highest in Europe, and Ireland is one of the few countries that imposes a high tax on print and digital newspapers.  Many other countries such as Denmark, the UK, Belgium, Norway, Austria and France actively support independent journalism through zero or reduced tax along with other supports.  Now, because of a recent change to the EU VAT Directive, the Irish goverment can now choose to support independent journalism by cutting VAT to 0% on print and digital newspapers.

The journalism produced by the member news publishers of NewsBrands and Local Ireland is read by 4 out of 5 adults/ 82% of the population ( TGI 2022), and plays a crucial role in our democracy. However, despite this, the ability of the news publishing industry to perform its crucial democratic role is increasingly being challenged by the increasing power of digital platforms, and the decline in print circulation and advertising revenue . All over the world, journalism and democracy itself is being challenged by the growth of disinformation and misinformation which raises serious concerns about where we can source truthful, accurate accounts on all the issues that shape our lives.

Irish news publishers provide the journalism that is essential to our democracy.  They give the public the information, insights, and perspective needed on the events shaping our society. As we’ve seen in other countries, without credible sources of news, where information is factual, accurate and politically impartial, public trust and democracy itself are undermined. 

According to Ann Marie Lenihan, CEO of NewsBrands Ireland, “VAT on newspapers is a tax on information, learning and democracy.  Introducing a 0% VAT rate for newspapers would represent a significant stimulus for both local and national news publishers and would facilitate the ongoing investment required to ensure citizens continue to have access to fact-checked, trusted journalism, which is now more important than ever. “

A zero VAT rate would lead to the following benefits to the journalism industry:

Reducing the VAT rate to zero will immediately enhance the viability of the Irish news publishing industry and place it in a far stronger position to tackle the scale of the challenges it faces

A zero VAT rate will provide the sector with the financial leverage to continue its investment in the transition to digital.

It would signal the government’s support for the role of quality journalism in a democracy and an awareness of the democratic deficit that could result from its absence.

It will facilitate the investment required to ensure citizens have access to fact-checked, trusted journalism

For more information, see the NewsBrands Ireland and Local Ireland’s submission to the Department of Finance