Yesterday I dove properly into reading about the new VAT legislation. Oh boy. I could feel my shoulders tensing and a headache building after just a short while. This stuff is complicated. Not least because there seems to conflicting advice on how to deal with it. Some countries seem to be fairly lenient, others are not.
There is also the disappointing stance from Etsy that they will not be acting as a third party who could sort out the VAT for all their many digital product sellers. Maybe they are just waiting to see what happens, before they take the next step in implementing it. But I somehow doubt it. If their customer service history is anything to judge by, they won't do anything until they are forced to. I think this is a mistake. They have a chance here to be the company who says 'we see how this affects you, we're going to make sure that we do everything we can to help you stay in business.' Etsy's stance is especially disappointing because this law also applies to non-EU sellers, but how it would be enforced outside the EU is anyone's guess.
I expect that a few smaller companies/platforms will emerge who will help digital sellers comply with the law without too much hassle or too high a cost to the end customer. I am looking into options at the moment. I hope I find a suitable one very soon!
In the meantime, if you are in the EU, I want to encourage you to make some noise about this issue. Even if it doesn't affect you right now. Because the thing is, if the EU has its way, the same law will also apply to physical goods from next year. So if you sell hand spun yarn or pottery instead of embroidery pattern PDFs - don't think that you are safe from this idiotic law.
We all have to do something. Seriously. Write to your member of the European Parliament. Write to your member of Parliament (or whatever the equivalent is in your country.) Contact any minister that oversees an area that could be affected by this: EU (obviously), business, employment, welfare, family.
At the moment it feels very much like it's only the UK that is making any noise about this, but we really need to stand together to make the EU understand how wrong this is. How badly it will affect micro businesses across the continent.
Even if you are in a country where perhaps web based entrepreneurship isn't so widespread, please contact the relevant politicians. Get in touch with the media, both local and national media. I know it feels like you can't make a change as a single person, but you really can.
I am working on a letter I will send to my MEP and MP - and whoever else I can think of. I will post it here too and you are welcome to use it as a template for your own letter.
Some useful links:
Find your member in the European Parliament
Find your local MP (UK).
Write to Them (UK) - a site that makes it easy to write to one or more MEPs or MPs at a time.
Visit the EU VAT action website for news, facts and how to take action.
Follow the Digital VAT 2015 Facebook group for news and information.
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