Norway is slashing tax on all news publications to zero, in line with the country's policy of encouraging a diverse and healthy media sector.
Norwegian authorities will introduce a zero VAT rate for electronic news services from March, bringing the country's tax treatment of online news into line with printed newspapers. "This will promote the consumption of news and current affairs media published in electronic form, which is of increasing importance for customers in Norway," said Sven Erik Svedman, president of the European Free Trade Association's (EFTA) surveillance authority which approved the measure.
Customers in Ireland are charged VAT at a rate of 9pc when they buy a newspaper.
Norway regards news media as vital to the country's cultural and economic health, and applies the special zero VAT rate to encourage publishers.
"The new zero VAT rate makes it possible for news media, including the large number of local and regional newspapers in Norway, to publish and sell their content electronically without being disadvantaged by the VAT system," Sven Erik Svedman said. The measures give a tax advantage to publishers, but promote an objective of common interest, namely media pluralism and diversity, he added. The rate will also apply to electronic news services from outside Norway.