VAT in the European Live Music Sector

The Value Added Tax, or VAT, in the European Union is a general, broadly based consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services.

This article presents:


  • With the rise of broadcasted live music events during lockdown, PEARLE* have issued a statement for an equal treatment of physical and online performances for low VAT rates: “As regards online performances, given the type of the organisations and companies, which are SMEs, often with a non-profit legal status, given the similarity between an online and physical performance, the role of culture and access to all people in society, the minimal risk of distortion of the market, the potential administrative burdens, the high labour-intensity of the sector, the strong need for support towards the recovery of the sector, there are cleararguments for anequal treatment of physical and online performances in the frame of Council Directive 2006/112/EC as regards rates of VAT”. Read PEARLE*’s statement here.
  • The national recovery plans for culture in the context of the COVID-19 crisis have had in some countries an impact on some VAT rates. Decreasing VAT rates, even only for a certain period of time, can help financially the sector and encourage audiences to come back to see live music events. For instance, in the UK in the March 2021 national budget, the reduced 5% cultural VAT rate on tickets (reduced from 20% for rock/pop/commercial music in July 2020) was extended until 31st September 2021, then it will rise to 12.5% for six months until April 2022. Similar measures were adopted in Norway where the submission deadlines for paying the VAT were delayed in 2020 and 2021, allowing live music organisers to better manage their liquidity in this time of crisis.


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