Om Monday, my weekly political cartoon for Guido Fawkes looked at the plans this week for Sunak Rishi, the Conservative government's new Chancellor Of The Exchequer to increase public borrowing and spending, as well removing tax relief, increasing the tax burden overall. But he has just removed one very significant taxes for readers of this website.
Citing Britain as a country of literature, of Shakespeare, of Austen and of Dahl, he announced that VAT, the sales tax applied to digital publications (not print publications), which he dubbed the reading tax, would be removed. This applies to books, newspapers, magazines, all digital publications – including comic books.
Taxes are one of the reasons given by ComiXology for their up-to-70% increase in the cost of digital comic books last week. Making up 20% of the cover price, might that see a reduction in prices in the UK as a result? And in wider Europe to, who ComiXology seem to level peg when it comes to prices?
You will have to wait until December for this zero rate of VAT to come in. Could this make digital comic books cheaper than print comic books again for 2021?
Hardback or e-book, fiction or factual, we're axing the tax on reading.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) March 11, 2020
And subsequently, Bleeding Cool understands that this policy was specifically placed into the Budget by a comic book reading Tory adviser who buys loads of stuff on ComiXology, and was suffering from sticker shock last week. He still has an expensive year ahead of him though…
The budget also looked at a £5 billion emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services during the spread of coronavirus, with statutory sick pay to all those who choose to self-isolate, even if they don't have symptoms, benefit claimants will be able to claim sick pay on day one, not after a week, a £500m hardship fund to help vulnerable people, fFirms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for two weeks, small firms will be able to access "business interruption" loans of up to £1.2m and business rates will be abolished for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000.
Along with other increased spending, the Chancellor predicted that public sector net borrowing is set to rise this year to 2.1% of GDP, rising to 2.4% and 2.8% in subsequent years – a massive jump from a traditionally fiscally conservative political party. Commentators have stated that this is closer to a Labour government budget in terms of priorities, and a U-Turn in terms of policy.