purchasing more downloads from Ireland VAT zone

About to suffer a little more pain than usual in renewing my Microsoft Action Pack subscription (note: don’t expect that link to display correctly in anything other than Microsoft Explorer). This year things have changed. Instead of everyone receiving physical media, we now have the option to download. Good for the environment.

Download users will pay the same pre-tax price as last year (£199) and physical media users will pay more (£273). But then there is VAT. We have different rates across the EU. In the UK the rate is currently 15%.

  • If you order physical media, you will pay the VAT for your region. In the UK, 15%.
  • If you order a download, you will pay the VAT for Ireland. 21.5%.

This really bugs me (accelerating me to grumpy-old-man status) and I have moaned about it before in relation to Adobe products. There must be some incentive or other good reasons for these companies to locate their online distribution services in Ireland. But they need to realise that they are costing many of their customers more by doing so.

I’m not sure if I should be moaning about the companies choice of country, or VAT and EU regulation in general. Greater minds than mine have argued against the VAT complexity in the past and failed to make any progress. So maybe time to give up, just get the extra 6.5% paid and go hit a punch-bag.

Posted by creacog

Product Owner/Manager; Digital Project Manager, ex-Developer Available for Product Owner roles


Ireland has a lower corporation tax rate than most other member states of the EU-15 (substantially lower, in cases), so it pays multinationals to base their EU operations here. As such, Microsoft alone contributes more than 5% of Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product.

VAT, as observed, is rather high and unlikely ever to go down by much. If anything, it is at least as likely to be rounded up to 22% as it is down to 21%.

@SjH, yeah, but in the example i give – i am purchasing one product. All that differs is the method of obtaining it. i.e. physical media one rate, download another. From the consumer POV this makes no sense. Especially to pay more for what should be a cheaper and greener distribution.

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