The Sky Is Falling, Chicken Little

Something’s been bugging me for weeks now and I’m lacking anywhere else to have a little rant.  Here’ll do.

Lately certain indie authors have been throwing their hands up and running around going “Britain is leaving the EU! This means doom for UK book selling!”  And I’m just sitting here scratching my head and wondering where the fuck they’ve been for the last four years and why they failed to notice the damage the EU has actually done to indie publishers?

Did the entirety of 2015 pass them by, when the EU insisted that digital products — books included — had to suddenly abide by an esoteric and complicated new VAT structure that included raising the VAT rate on digital books from 3% to 20% (since many large companies are based in Luxembourg, which meant passing on the tax saving to the buyer)?  Or the way it screwed over indie book markets who now have to calculate VAT based not in their home country, but on the country of the consumer?

Presumably they didn’t have to sit down and go through the process of working out whether or not they needed to raise their prices to offset the fact VAT was no longer added on top of a book’s list price but was suddenly taken out from their earnings instead.

No wonder people flocked to Amazon, who did it all for them; if you had your own small storefront, but didn’t earn enough in the UK to be VAT registered, guess what?  It didn’t fucking matter.

2. If you are not UK VAT registered, and you are not using a digital platform, store or marketplace to supply digital services, then you will need to:
• Register for VAT in each Member State that you supply digital services, or
• Voluntarily register for VAT in the UK and then use the MOSS

Oh, and, just for added shits and giggles:

3. You will need to determine if your customers are 'taxable persons' who are in business and have provided you with their VAT Registration Number (VRN), or other information that they are in business, because if this is the case, you will be making business‐to‐business (B2B) supplies which will be dealt with under existing EU VAT rules, rather than B2C supplies.

HO THERE FINE CUSTOMER BUYING MY BOOK FROM MY WEBSITE, ARE YOU A SMALL BUSINESS?

​Bit personal.

Of course now people are falling over themselves to say, “but, but, but … the EU says people can reduce the VAT rate of ebooks to match printed ones! If we leave the EU we won’t be able to do it!”

Uh, says who?  And this is the same EU who, in 2014 when Malta and Italy did exactly that, decided it was illegal and threatened to prosecute them.

Oh no.  What will the UK book market ever do without the EU?

Maybe, possibly, become more fucking stable, that’s what.  (But let’s be honest, that’s unlikely because Bureaucracy.)

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