This past week has seen some major Twitter and other online uproar over Patreon’s ‘not our problem’ stance on handling the new EU VAT for their users – buyers and sellers. Not helped by the fact that PWC aka Price Waterhouse Cooper, their massively expensive accountants initially gave them 100% inaccurate advice. Apparently the issue is now under review…
This isn’t the first such uproar and more than one business has effectively been bullied – by HMRC and the EU, not their customers – into hastily coming into line with the new regulations and the decree that 3rd party marketplaces are responsible.
On one hand it’s good to see organisations like Gumroad, Etsy etc taking on the VAT headache for their customers – especially given it’s apparent they were given nothing like appropriate notice that all this chaos was heading their way.
On the other hand, so many of our businesses still need a workable option for selling direct. For reasons that don’t necessarily relate to money – or not only to money.
For me as a writer, that direct contact with readers is vital to building an keeping a fanbase, and one way to enhance that relationship is by offering advance sales of new books and side projects exclusively via my website. And yes, that’s also a way of maximising my income from new releases which is also money that comes to me at once, not a month or more in arrears via Amazon etc.
I’ve seen a software developer elsewhere explaining how initially offering apps direct from his own website is an important way to establish which new ideas are worth pursuing. These aren’t suitable for putting out via 3rd parties.
I’m sure there are similar considerations for any number of other businesses.
The first tangible result of my own meeting with David Cameron last week is a meeting scheduled for the EU VAT Action campaign with the No.10 Policy Unit next week. This is something I want to raise.
It would be really, really helpful, if you could let me know your thoughts on this by Monday.