St. John’s — Newfoundland and Labrador is poised to become the first province to tax books.
In addition to the 5% federal tax, the province will be adding 10% as part of the 2017 budget. However, the tax, which will apply to almost all books sold in the province, is not even on the radar of Newfoundland residents, who have been unable to read news headlines about it, let alone full stories.
“I don’t read the news… a tax on what now?” asked St. John’s man Harry Green. “As long as they’re not bumping up taxes on cigarettes or the lotto, it don’t make much difference to me.”
Newfoundlander Shelly Boyne had the same sentiments. “Books… you mean like school books?” she asked, puzzled. “I’m 38 years old and I don’t have kids — why would I give a hoot about the cost of school books? And who are you?”
St. John’s native Geraldine Burnett, 71, said she doesn’t care for reading, unless it’s the obituary notices in the newspaper. “I just have to check to make sure my name’s not in there,” she chuckled, leafing through today’s issue. “Seems I’ve made it out alive for another day!”
Not all Newfoundland residents are blissfully unaware of the new tax, however. “This is a tax on reading, a tax on literacy itself,” said book publisher Ben McAllister, who moved to St. John’s from Toronto in order to find lucrative employment in a less competitive market. “This tax will mean fewer sales for my company, which will mean fewer literate Newfoundlanders, and ultimately,” he added with a shiver, “I’ll have to go back to being a busboy in Toronto.”
The Manatee spoke with Premier Dwight Ball, who said he approved the 10% book tax before he had time to read the Sales Tax For Dummies book he bought last year at Chapters. “What do you get when you multiply the price of the book times 10? Or is it times 0.10? Ugh I don’t know, I failed math and that book looks way too intimidating. I should just return it.”