Copyright: what VAT rate applies?

The code of value added tax specifies that the transfer or the surrender of copyright is considered to be a form of “service delivery” (art. 18 § 1, 7° CTVA). Hence, when such an operation is performed by a taxable person acting as such, it is, in principle, subject to value added tax. The scope of this article is limited to the determination of the applicable rate. The transfer or surrender of copyright is likely to lead to the application of the reduced rate of 6%, the normal rate of 21% or to be exempted. How is the rate determined? Royal Decree No. 20 specifies that the normal rate of tax is set at 21%. However, the rate is reduced to 6% for goods and services listed in Table A of the annex to that decree. We draw, however, the attention of the reader to the fact that the reduced rate may not be found to apply when the services covered by Table A constitute an accessory to a complex agreement having for their main object a service that is subject to the normal rate.

Summary table


Transfer/surrender of copyright or related rights



Author / Composer



Performing artist[1]




Principle :






Royal Decree n° 20

Section XXIX (Table A – services)

Exceptions :
Computer programmes 21% N/A Section XXIX
Works of advertising 21% 21% Section XXIX
Publishing Contract Exempted N/A Art. 44 § 3, 3° CTVA
Services, including rights, provided to an organiser of live shows for the performance of a work  





Art. 44 § 2, 8° CTVA

(+ decision n° E.T.25.031 of 22.01.1977)


[1] The concept of performing artist within the meaning of the VAT Code is broader than the concept of performer within the meaning of the Code of Economic Law. Moreover, the tax concept also targets artists who act through the intermediary of a legal entity.