Regular readers will be familiar with the utter disaster of the new EU VAT rules on digital products, which have forced vast numbers of small businesses to stop trading and forced similar numbers (including Wizard’s Tower) to sell only through big corporations such as Amazon. You are probably also aware that Juliet McKenna is part of a small team of people who have taken it upon themselves to lobby the EU and try to get something done.
As Juliet reports on her blog, the EU has now started to listen, and to accept that it has a problem. Unfortunately EU decision making takes place on geological timescales, so getting them to actually do anything is a major problem. There is a major EU Finance Ministers meeting taking place in Dublin next month, and if we want anything done we need to lobby them, hard.
Of course most lobbying of such meetings is done by professional lobbyists with multi-million Euro budgets backing them up. Up until now, Juliet and her colleagues have been paying all of their expenses out of their own pockets. And they are just about out of money. So they have launched a crowdfunding appeal.
The initial goal was to send one person (Clare Josa) to Dublin. I’m delighted to see that goal has been reached in less than a day. That’s thanks in no small part to Rebellion (publishers of, amongst other things, 2000 AD and Solaris books). Sadly they can’t send Judge Dredd to Dublin to help Clare out, but it would be good to send someone else to give Clare some support. Also there are meetings in London that the team need to attend (which are often held early in the morning when rail fares are crazily high). Juliet is already out of pocket to the tune of around £500, and the other members of the team will have had similar expenses. It would be good to be able to reimburse them.
The objective in Dublin is to get the EU to agree to the immediate imposition of a threshold for VAT registration under the new system. This would allow small companies like Wizard’s Tower to get back to selling direct, and it would stop taxation departments around Europe hassling small businesses for amounts as small as 5p.
As I have said before on this subject, it makes no economic sense whatsoever to have taxation services spend more money to collect tax revenue than they will receive in revenue. And yet they are doing it. It is your money they are wasting (if you are a tax-playing EU citizen).
Also it is really important for the fight against DRM to allow small businesses to sell direct. I have been told, though I haven’t had time to check this, that since the new VAT rules came in both Nook and Kobo have stopped allowing customers to download a book, they will only send books to registered reading devices. It is not in your interests to be locked into buying only from big corporations.
Obviously publishers such as Rebellion and Wizard’s Tower are ponying up what we can afford here. It is in our interests to do so. I don’t expect readers to get anywhere near matching that. However, every little helps. Also, the more people donate, the more evidence we have to show the EU that people want this mess fixed. Send them the price of a coffee. I’m sure most of you can afford that. And think of it as a small finger in the face of Amazon and their Eurocrat friends.
The team has promised to only use the money for campaign expenses. Any excess will be donated to the microfunding charity, Kiva.