[AI] [WeThePwd:2095] GST cut for e-books, but publishers are not elated, wheelchair accessory luxury tax - ETC

Vaishnavi Jayakumar jayakumar.vaishnavi at gmail.com
Wed Aug 1 01:29:50 EDT 2018

Hi everyone,

Time to revive GST action on the sector's end.

   1. Amba, what about ebook copyright law exemptions
   for blind and GST wrt this press clipping? Printed and Braille books are at
   nil GST btw.
   2. Nipun, what progress on the GST PIL
   3. Prashant, any update on the wheelchair accessory luxury tax of 28%

Any other developments post last year's campaign? Check archives at
www.bit.ly/whytaxdisability to refresh your memory.


*GST cut for e-books, but publishers are not elated*

*Mumbai, July 25, 2018 23:17 IST*

   - E-readers are popular, but e-books have weak sales in India
   - A lower tax rate is applicable if titles also have a print version,
   which has not excited the industry
   - What might have been a leg-up for book publishers to help reduce their
   carbon footprint, might just end being a weak announcement by the

The GST Council has announced some ‘relief’ for publishers in the form of
reduction in GST on e-book sales — from 18% to 5%. The reduction is
applicable only to books that have a print version as well.

The announcement has left publishers — who are usually busy thumbing
through manuscripts and dealing with high production costs — perplexed
because there appears to be little clarity on what the move means for the

Most publishers, concerned with spiralling costs, voice scepticism. Thomas
Abraham, managing director, Hachette India, says, “The whole thing is a bit
absurd. It would have made more sense if the rather draconian 12% new GST
levied on royalties had been abolished, and the 12% GST on printing
material was reduced, back to 5%. Both have come as a double whammy that
have raised costs for publishers with no respite, as input tax credit is
also not available for books, because books are GST- exempt.”

Sanjiv Gupta, COO, Penguin Random House, seems to concur with Abraham. “In
India, typically the cost of an e-book is the same as the print book. It’s
a welcome step but they should reduce the tax on printing of books. We had
VAT earlier and that was 4% to 5% and some printers were charging it and
others were not. E-books worldwide have touched 35% of the total business
but it has come down to 25%. In India, it has stayed from 5% to 7%.”

*So will the new GST help?*
There are many questions. Will just one printed copy suffice for a book to
qualify for the reduced GST? And since the announcement comes under
Education/Training/Skill Development’, will it apply to fiction and

*Waiting for the fine print*
Pratik Jain, partner and leader (Indirect Tax), Pricewaterhouse Coopers
(PwC), says the notification does not apply only to educational books,
“Let’s see the wording of the notification to be issued. It’s not limited
to educational books as per the press statement. The only condition is that
the print version should exist. Now, whether it does exist or not would
depend on facts of the case. If only five copies are printed, there could
be a case of evasion.”

While Oxford Univerity Press and Amazon Publishing declined to comment,
Neelkanth Karinje, CFO, Juggernaut, thinks the announcement will have no
impact on the company’s digital publishing business.

“We don’t have a print version of text books or those related to education.
It seems the government is in no mood to abolish GST on e-books, but only
giving a concession to education sector,” he said.

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