Book tax or death knell?
I have been an independent bookseller in St. John’s for nearly three years, and have recently expanded to Bonavista.
On Jan. 1, 2017, our provincial government will add an additional 10 per cent sales tax on all books sold in Newfoundland and Labrador. This will raise the total (tax included) price of the average new book to $22.95 from $20.95.
This tax will very likely put me out of business.
My business, like most in the downtown, is already dealing with the stress of tax and fee increases from the municipal government. Since opening on Duckworth Street in 2014, the shop’s annual sales have averaged $ 80,000. Given that we are in the midst of an economic “downturn” I cannot expect those sales to increase this year.
Optimistically, sales will stay the same, but the book tax will apply still more pressure to my bottom line. My customers will likely not absorb the extra 10 per cent. They will buy fewer books, while spending the same amount of money — maybe even less.
In 2016 I have managed to cover expenses and pay myself $6,600. If the book tax takes another $8,000 out of my annual sales, I will not only be forced to work for free; I will also be unable to pay my rent on more than one occasion.
The Liberal government plans to implement this tax without any consultation from the bookselling community.
There are very few of us, and up to now nobody I know of has been contacted. Personally, I tried multiple times to organize a meeting with Finance Minister Cathy Bennett in order to explain how this tax will affect booksellers.
I left messages and talked to people in the Finance Department, but nobody was willing or able to meet with me.
It would be grossly irresponsible of the government to slap this tax on books without meeting with the people who sell them.