消費税と新聞 文化と民主主義を守るために

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 4, 2012)
Keep tax on printed matter low to protect culture, democracy
消費税と新聞 文化と民主主義を守るために(8月3日付・読売社説)

A number of European nations have adopted reduced tax rate systems to keep value-added taxes low on newspapers and books.

To preserve the culture of print and democracy, Japan should introduce a similar system in the course of its planned consumption tax rate increase.

Value-added taxes in Europe, which are equivalent to the consumption tax in Japan, have higher rates--at about 20 percent--than Japan. But the tax rates applied to newspapers are just 7 percent in Germany and 2.1 percent in France, while there is no tax on such matter in Britain.

This is because newspapers are recognized as public organs that support democracy by providing information on the policies of central and local governments and carrying various opinions on a number of issues. As a result, they offer material people use to form judgments.

In this respect, newspapers have won the trust of many readers in Japan as well. The use of newspapers at schools also has been spreading with Newspapers in Education (NIE) programs, which are aimed at helping schoolchildren improve their reading comprehension abilities and cultivate their abilities to think and make judgments to solve problems.

We consider it necessary to pay due attention to newspapers' inherent role in serving the public and its interests.


Diet group backs current rate

A Diet group to promote the culture of print, comprising lawmakers from various parties, has issued a statement calling for maintaining the current tax rate at 5 percent for newspapers, books and some other publications.

The statement expressed a strong sense of crisis regarding these types of publications, saying: "Their public nature is extremely strong, in that they have played central roles in maintaining the culture of print in Japan. Consumption tax hikes would accelerate people's moves away from printed matter."

In Diet deliberations on bills to raise the consumption tax rate, which are now in the final stage, there has been active discussion of reduced tax rate systems.

New Komeito's vice representative, Akira Matsu, called for introducing a reduced tax rate system on printed matter when the consumption tax rate is raised to 8 percent in the first of the envisaged two-stage tax hike plan.
"Reduced tax rate systems [on newspapers and books] are implemented in a number of European nations as they are considered intellectual infrastructure for democracy," Matsu said.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in response: "[The government] will consider [reduced tax rate systems] from various points of view. It's important that we study the situation in foreign countries."


Be careful of taxing education

Learning from European models, we consider it necessary to give prudent consideration to taxes imposed on knowledge and education.

To maintain social security systems in a stable manner, it is inevitable to consider a future additional increase in the consumption tax rate beyond 10 percent.

To ease the financial burden on households and obtain the people's understanding, we think it would be effective to introduce reduced tax rate systems.

Opponents of such systems, mainly in the Finance Ministry, argue it would be difficult to set clear lines for which items should be subject to lower tax rates and that the systems might result in lower tax revenues.

But if eligibility for lower tax rates is limited, it is unlikely there would be sharp drops in tax revenues.

To determine what should be subject to lower tax rates, political leaders should be responsible for deciding after a third-party committee or other body studies the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 3, 2012)
(2012年8月3日01時55分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-05 08:31 | 英字新聞

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