Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#VATMOSS To Affect (and Decimate?) Small Business

UPDATE: I am not pulling my Kindle books off the EU market.  This whole VATMOSS this is incredibly confusing, and I'm grateful for the folks who pointed me toward resources (like this one) that show that in cases where the digital product is sold through a marketplace (such as Kindle books through Amazon), it is the marketplace and not the owner of the product that is responsible for the new tax.  So that's good.  But future ecourses of mine will only be open to non-EU folks.  Ugh what a mess, huh?

I'm leaving the original post up because there's important info in here, but WILL be keeping my Kindle books on the EU market.

You may or may not have heard of the new European Union VAT tax which is being applied to the sale of digital/downloadable items like books, music, ecourses, and more.  It's strangely not getting a lot of publicity, even though it is going to adversely affect many, many small businesses and independent artists like myself.  Basically, business owners are being required to pay an additional tax to the home countries of EU residents that purchase ditial items from them.  I find it all incredibly confusing, but you can read more about the VAT tax here, and this is one of the best articles I've found delineating what is taxable under the new tax and what's not.

That's all very interesting and brain-imploding, Beth.  But, um, why are you writing about it?

Here's the deal.  I love doing business with customers the world over (thank you!).  However, at this time I don't bring in nearly enough income (or, uh, hardly any income) to warrant registering and paying for the new EU VAT tax.  So, as of January 1, 2015, my ebooks will no longer be available to buyers within the European Union.  December 30, 2014, is the last day to purchase the Kindle edition of The Light Between Us and Life After Eating Disorder.  I'm also removing The Light Between Us from Smashwords because there doesn't seem to be a way to make it only available to non-EU customers.  In addition, unless this law changes, my future ebooks and ecourses will not be sold to residents of the EU.

Which totally sucks.

That said, right now the tax does not apply to physical items purchased online, so EU residents can still buy my art prints and originals and hard copies of my books.  So that's good.  Be aware, though -- there's talk of applying the VAT tax to physical goods in 2016, and Australia's also looking to implement the same kind of tax.  So if you're as upset as I am by these laws, either as a seller or a customer, please write to your local representative and encourage them to rethink how this new tax is negatively impacting the global small business economy.  I have, and will continue to.

So this is kind of a lame end-of-the-year post. But it's what is best for my business right now.  If in the future I bring in more income and can afford to pay the VAT tax, then I will happily reopen my eproducts to EU residents.  Until that time, it's out of my hands.  I'm very sorry, and very sad that it's come to this.  Please know that I treasure your interest and your business and your readership immensely. 

That said, there are still a handful of hours to get your Kindle copy of my books before this whole VAT mess goes into place.  So if you've been waiting, now's the time.

Thanks, and hope your transition into 2015 is peaceful and soft.

*image by Dave Dugdale under creative commons


  1. My understanding is that platforms like Amazon which handle all payment and distribution are responsible for deducting and paying the appropriate taxes. I've pulled my digital items from Etsy because they are being obstinate about obeying the law as they are required, but for Amazon or Smashwords you should be okay. I'm not pulling my ebooks.

  2. Thanks, Anna! I just saw that (here's a good resource: https://selz.com/blog/vatmoss-business-can/) but damn, this is all confusing. But I'm glad that marketplaces are safe for now. And yes, I have no idea why Etsy isn't doing the same thing. Legally, it seems like they would have to. :P


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