Cairncross Review proposes VAT zero rate for e-publications and charitable status (and tax reliefs) for local journalism

The Cairncross Review: A Sustainable Future for Journalism has concluded that one of the ways in which local and investigative journalism could be better funded is through tax reliefs, which could be best achieved by granting news outlets charitable status. The review suggests that adding journalism to the list of charitable purposes by amending the Charities Act 2011 could help news outlets become charities.

Responding to the Review, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright MP, has indicated that it is supportive of the idea of granting charitable status to some forms of journalism and has asked the Charity Commission to look into how it could be achieved.

Cairncross Review

Recommendation 7: New forms of tax relief

The government should introduce new tax reliefs aimed at encouraging (i) payments for online news content and (ii) the provision of local and investigative journalism.

The Review recommends extending the zero-rating of VAT to digital newspapers and magazines, including digital-only news publications. The present arrangement actively discourages publishers from developing online payment mechanisms.

The Review also recommends that Government gives priority to exploring the development of a form of tax relief, ideally under
the Charities Act but if necessary along the lines of the Creative Sector reliefs, to support public-interest journalism.