Book tax will hurt lo­cal busi­nesses

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - Gavin Will Boul­der Pub­li­ca­tions Ltd. Por­tu­gal Cove-St.Philip’s

Dear Ed­i­tor, As the owner of a book pub­lish­ing com­pany in New­found­land and Labrador, I ask that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment re­peal a 10 per cent pro­vin­cial sales tax on books, due to com­mence in Jan­uary.

While this mea­sure would raise a neg­li­gi­ble amount of rev­enue, the di­rect harm in­flicted by it on my com­pany will be sub­stan­tial. Boul­der Pub­li­ca­tions re­lies heav­ily on the New­found­land and Labrador mar­ket for its con­tin­ued ex­is­tence, so it stands to rea­son that our sales will de­cline if the gov­ern­ment pro­ceeds with tax­ing books.

The­o­ret­i­cally, Boul­der could re­duce prices in or­der to coun­ter­act the tax. From a prac­ti­cal per­spec­tive, how­ever, this is im­pos­si­ble be­cause our costs — in­clud­ing print­ing, graphic de­sign, edit­ing, trans­porta­tion, ship­ping and wages — con­tinue to rise.

Mean­while, thanks to the new tax, pub­lish­ers head­quar­tered out­side New­found­land and Labrador face a unique op­por­tu­nity. My com­pany com­petes with other Cana­dian pub­lish­ers, many of which re­ceive sub­stan­tially greater sup­port from their pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments than those in this prov­ince re­ceive. Most wor­ry­ing to Boul­der is a de­ci­sion by Nova Sco­tia, in Oc­to­ber, to pro­vide $1.1 mil­lion to pub­lish­ers in that prov­ince. The fo­cus of this large in­jec­tion of funds is ex­pan­sion of ex­port mar­kets for Nova Sco­tia pub­lish­ers, both out­side Canada and within. New­found­land and Labrador will be high on their list of op­por­tu­ni­ties, due in large part to the tax our gov­ern­ment has de­cided to im­pose on books. Since no other prov­ince taxes books — and be­cause of gen­er­ous gov­ern­ment sup­port — pub­lish­ers re­sid­ing else­where can also af­ford to sub­si­dize re­tail prices for books cre­ated specif­i­cally for the N.L. mar­ket. They ac­cept a lower mar­gin of profit here be­cause their pri­mary mar­kets lie else­where in Canada or the United States.

Ma­jor pub­lish­ers have al­ready taken heed of the strong de­mand for lo­cal books in N.L. This Christ­mas, I counted three chil­dren’s books cre­ated specif­i­cally for this mar­ket that were pub­lished by ma­jor in­ter­na­tional pub­lish­ers. Most no­tably, their re­tail prices are quite a bit lower than those charged by lo­cal pub­lish­ers. The chal­lenge this poses will be ex­ac­er­bated with the new tax.

I am cer­tain the Ball ad­min­is­tra­tion would not in­ten­tion­ally hob­ble the abil­ity of my com­pany to com­pete. I there­fore ask the gov­ern­ment to im­me­di­ately can­cel its plan for tax­ing books.

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