Budget 2020: key points for tech lawyers

March 12, 2020

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP,  yesterday delivered the 2020 Budget. It included various key issues of interest for tech lawyers.

Digital Services Tax

The Chancellor confirmed the introduction of a Digital Services Tax. From April 2020, the government will introduce a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. 

Zero rate VAT for digital publications

The Government will also introduce legislation to apply a zero rate of VAT to e-publications from 1 December 2020, so e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines and academic e-journals have the same VAT treatment as their physical counterparts. The zero rate will not apply to audiobooks.

Digital currencies discussion paper

The government says that it is looking forward to the publication of the Bank of England’s discussion paper on a possible UK central bank digital currency.

Cryptoassets consultation

The government aims to protect consumers and support innovation in cryptoassets.  It therefore intends to consult on a measure to bring certain cryptoassets into scope of financial promotions regulation. The government also intends to consult later in 2020 on the broader regulatory approach to cryptoassets, including new challenges from so-called ‘stablecoins’.

Furnam review

The government will accept all six of the Furman Review’s strategic recommendations for unlocking competition in digital markets.

Fintech review and delivery panel

The government has invited Ron Kalifa OBE to lead a major review into the fintech sector. The review will identify what more industry and government can do to support growth and competitiveness. The government will also extend funding for the Fintech Delivery Panel.

Digital Identity Unit

The government will work to create a digital identity market so that people do not have to show paper documents. 

Call for evidence for the Payments Landscape Review

In light of rapid technology developments, HM Treasury, along with regulators and the Financial Policy Committee, is leading a Payments Landscape Review of the UK’s payments infrastructure and regulation. As part of this, HM Treasury will shortly be publishing a call for evidence to ask what more could be done by the government, industry and regulators to support a more innovative and resilient payments system.

The full Budget and supporting documents are available on the Treasury website.