Latvian government agrees to reduce VAT for books and printed press to 5%

Books and printed press will be applied with Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5% from now on, as decided by Latvia’s government.
VAT for books published in physical and digital form will reduce from 12% to 5%. This also applies to newspapers and other printed press that are released in physical and digital form.
Reduction of VAT for aforementioned goods was an initiative from the Ministry of Culture to promote better accessibility and variety of of books and printed press and to satisfy society’s needs for culture, education and information.
The ministry explains VAT for books in Latvia is currently one of the biggest in the EU – the average VAT rate for books in the EU is 6.6%. This applies to all formats, e-books included.
The ministry also notes that some EU countries have a 0% VAT rate. VAT for books in Latvia was 5% until 2009, when it was first increased to 21% and then reduced to 12%.
According to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSP), since 2009 there has been a gradual reduction of the number of new books released every year. According to data from CSP, the number of books released in 2020 had reduced 14.2% when compared to 2019, reaching the lowest point since the restoration of Latvia’s independence.
The Ministry of Culture mentioned Estonia as an example, which has a population number of 1.325 million and books are applied with 9% VAT. 3 634 book titles are published every year. Latvia has a population of 1.92 million and 1 805 book titles are published every year. This means 180% fewer books are published per capita when compared to Estonia.
«As a result there is a drop in book supply for Latvian residents. This creates risks for both cultural diversity and accessibility, as well as Latvian language, considering books remain one of the most important language carriers and conduits for its development,» as mentioned in the annotation to the legislative draft.
The Ministry of Culture notes it is necessary to reduce VAT for books and printed press to 5% in order to promote their accessibility in Latvia, stabilize numbers and prices.