I may not have blogged about this lately but there’s been plenty going on over these past few months. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that Brussels shuts up shop for the summer while everyone heads for the beach. The emails and calls have been going back and forth as busily as ever.
We now have a chance to convince the EU that they must take decisive action to put a stop to the damage these regulations are doing, at the EU Finance Ministers’ summit in Dublin, 7th – 9th September. As long as we can afford to send a representative to speak up on behalf of everyone so badly affected. The EU VAT Action Team has held off asking for money for as long as possible but now we need financial help.
Let me explain how we got this far…
With the ongoing and invaluable assistance of MEPs Vicky Ford (Con), Anneliese Dodds (Lab) and Catherine Bearder (Lib Dem), we’ve continued to make the case for reform and interim suspension of this legislation which is still proving unworkable and hugely damaging for the digital small business sector. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s already killing the digital single market at the grass roots level.
Thanks to ongoing pressure from all the campaign’s supporters, through letters and calls, Deloitte have now been instructed to work with us and to accept our evidence as they prepare an impact assessment for the EU Commission.
Here in the UK we’ve been working with senior figures and VAT experts within the accountancy profession and other business organisations, as we continue to collect evidence of the hugely disproportionate costs of compliance, for the sake of paying trivial amounts to the tax man. We’re talking typically under £10. Yes, really.
We’ve also been collecting evidence of ongoing problems with the entire system. Such as small businesses in the UK being hounded directly by other countries’ tax offices over discrepancies which aren’t even their fault, of under £1, €1, and in one case, 5p. Yes, you read that right. The supposed agreement that such queries would be directed to HMRC simply isn’t holding.
Once again, letters and calls from all the campaign’s supporters to their MPs and other representatives have bolstered the EU VAT Action Team’s case. Feel free to continue writing!
We’ve reached the point where EU Commissioners Donato Raponi and Andrus Ansip are convinced this legislation needs a threshold to make the system workable. And while the details of that are worked out, we need an interim suspension for the smallest businesses who’ve been the hardest hit.
Now we need to convince all 28 EU Finance Ministries. To do that, we need to send a representative to Dublin. At our own expense. Welcome to modern participatory democracy – your voice will be heard as long as you can pay to play.
So we’ve set up a Just Giving page, with a target of £3000. If we don’t reach that in a month, every pledge will be refunded. And, obviously, we won’t be making the case for such desperately needed changes in Dublin.
Assuming we can reach that target (and passing it would be good!) the first priority will be meeting the Dublin trip’s costs. After that, we’ll refund the expenses the EU VAT Action Team have been covering out of their own pockets thus far, pro rata.
For instance, my own tally for train fares and other direct costs is now approaching £500. That’s used up most of my own business travel and promotions budget, so if you’ve been wondering why you haven’t seen me at SFF conventions this year, there’s your answer.
(We’re not even trying to calculate the hundreds of hours and thousands of words we’ve spent on this, in meetings, writing letters, briefings and blogposts… And the rigmarole of setting up a bank account has been another saga in itself…)
Once those direct costs have been met, any surplus will be donated to Kiva, a non-profit microfinance company alleviating poverty in the developing world by enabling people to create their own opportunities, meeting their own communities’ needs.
We’ve already demonstrated that a lot of small voices protesting together can have a big impact. Now a lot of small donations could very quickly give us the sum we need to see this campaign achieve the changes to the legislation that all of us so desperately need.
Please give us whatever you can afford, and spread the word as far and as fast as possible.
(For those of you who prefer to use PayPal, we are looking in to that option and will post an update as soon as that’s available. But as with setting up the bank account, getting a Donations button turns out to be an unexpectedly lengthy and complicated process.)
Edited to Add
If you click through to the Just Giving page, you’ll now see we’re fully funded, thanks to the outstanding generosity of the video games company Rebellion, who are also the parent company of Solaris Books and the comic 2000AD, and as such can see exactly how bad this is for digital creatives.
Since this affects so many people in all three of those areas, games, comics and books, they decided to guarantee we’d be representing the self-starters and independents at that vital meeting!
So now, if you can add your contribution, however much that might be, we can hopefully send a second delegate to provide administrative and moral support to our speaker at the conference!
And please keep spreading the word!