ネット配信 外国企業にも消費課税が要る


The Yomiuri Shimbun October 26, 2013
Impose consumption tax on digital products distributed from overseas
ネット配信 外国企業にも消費課税が要る(10月25日付・読売社説)

An unfair situation has emerged regarding how domestic and foreign firms are taxed in the rapidly growing industry of online digital data distribution. An environment must be created in which they can compete on an equal footing.

The Tax Commission has started examining the advisability of imposing the consumption tax even on e-books and music provided online from overseas.

Under the current system, the tax is imposed only on domestically provided electronic information.

For instance, no consumption tax applies to e-books bought by Japanese consumers on the Amazon.com online marketplace based in the United States.

If there are price differences for the same e-products due to tax, depending on whether they are provided from overseas or at home, domestic firms will be forced into a disadvantageous situation.

The publishing and Internet industries have pointed out that such an unfair tax burden impairs the competitive environment. They have every reason to call for reexamining the tax system based on such an argument.

Such circumstances have emerged because the imposition of consumption tax is limited to domestic transactions and imports of goods. The tax is not levied on data distributed through overseas servers because they are regarded as overseas transactions of non-goods.

The amount of tax revenues lost because of the no-tax rule for products provided online from overseas is said to be in the tens of billions of yen a year.

Adverse effects of levy

The government will raise the sales tax from 5 percent to 8 percent next April. The rate is scheduled to be increased to 10 percent in October 2015. If the range of the tax’s application is left unchanged, adverse effects of the tax exemption on online products provided from overseas are expected to expand.

Such unfair taxation may accelerate the hollowing-out of industry, as Japanese digital data providers may shift their bases overseas.

According to Impress Innovation Lab, Japan’s e-book market is expected to balloon to about ¥240 billion in fiscal 2017, about triple that of fiscal 2012.

Online information distribution is a promising growth industry. The government must accelerate work to reexamine the range of the consumption tax’s application.

However, a host of challenges need to be tackled, such as how to accurately grasp the online distribution prices of foreign companies.

Among other steps, it will be essential to establish a system in which Japanese tax authorities can cooperate with their foreign counterparts to share information on foreign companies.

Since about a decade ago, Germany and other European Union member countries successively introduced the so-called value-added tax, which is equivalent to Japan’s consumption tax, on online distribution services provided from outside the EU.

Online data distributors outside the EU are required to file a business registration, which has produced certain results. Such a registration system for Japan is also worth studying.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 25, 2013)
(2013年10月25日01時41分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-10-27 07:42 | 英字新聞

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