Book tax or death knell?

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - Matt Howse Owner/Op­er­a­tor, Bro­ken Books St. John’s & Bon­av­ista

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.

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