Saturday, July 17, 2010

e-books attract higher tax in Ontario

In May I downloaded the Kobo e-book reader for my iPod Touch. I found my eyes had improved to the point where I could read the fine print of the reader. I started with some free books - out of copyright books, “classics”. And then I took the plunge and bought some titles. I really enjoyed the fact there was no thick pocket book to store or pass on. The price was comparable to buying a paperback with the usual 5% GST.

Imagine my surprise when I downloaded another paid book this month! Sales tax was now 13%! How can that be, I wondered? Why, our premier, Mr Dalton McGinty, had listed the items affected by the switch to HST and books were shown as 5% - even audio books were now 5%.

So I wrote the government. I wrote Kobo. Kobo said they were looking into it and would get back. Unfortunately the link they gave me chased its tail. When I signed in, the site said “no can do, that user is already listed”. A day or two later, the government responded and directed me to a FEDERAL CRA site that listed the ONTARIO HST rules. And guess what? The federal site lists e-books as separate from paper books and audio books and says they attract 13% HST.

How about that - a new technology that will hopefully help reduce the proliferation of waste is whacked with an added 8% sales tax. Nice. Just what I like to see - stomp on the new technology. Then again, if you have been reading about the screw-up in Ontario with the so called eco fee, you can see why some flunky can’t tell an e-book from a book...