Reduced VAT rates for online newspapers, magazines and e-books have been approved in last session of the Federal Parliament

Christoph Zenner 8 April 2019


As from 1 April 2019 reduced VAT rates for online newspapers, magazines and e-books are applicable in Belgium.

The EU Council has agreed in October 2018 on a VAT Directive to allow the EU Member States to apply a reduced (or even 0%) VAT rate to electronic publications, in order to modernise VAT for the digital economy and align the applicable VAT rate and VAT treatment for physical and electronic publications.

In the last session of the Federal Parliament before the upcoming elections, it has been agreed that this Directive will be implemented in the Belgian VAT legislation through a bill modifying Royal Decree no. 20. Reduced VAT rates are now applicable to digitally supplied newspapers, magazines and books in Belgium as from 1 April 2019 (i.e. equal VAT rate and treatment for publications, irrespective of the ‘distribution’ medium of the publication).

The bill includes the following changes:

(1) a reduced VAT rate of 6% applies on the sale in Belgium of journalistic publications such as newspapers and magazines, regardless of manner it is supplied (e.g. via electronic means, via a physical medium, via paper,… and provided that specific conditions are fulfilled);
(2) a super reduced VAT rate of 0% for the sale in Belgium of printed and digital newspapers, journals and magazines of general interest issued at least 48 times in a year (provided that specific conditions are fulfilled).

Digital ‘publications’ that solely or mainly consist of audio-visual content or listenable music remain excluded from the application of the reduced VAT rates.

It is recommendable to screen your products/offerings (current and future), gather information/documentation on how it is marketed and determine the impact as well as the opportunities of this new regulation for your business.

We would be happy to discuss your findings and to assist where needed.