I'd ordered a book from the UK costing all of £12.99. It may seem daft - the information is freely available on the web; moreover, the postage charges were almost the same as the cost of the book, at £9.99 - but it was something I wanted as a reference, and a resource for teaching. I happily sent my electrons down the ether and contained my excitement about the arrival.
Today the note arrived from the Post Office, advising me that it had arrived. My febrile anticipation was somewhat tempered by the footnote that a payment of R53.42 would be required. I'm not a beancounter, nor am I an economist, and so I'm opting to use very rounded off numbers in what follows. Even assuming the rate of exchange to be R15 to the £, the Rand cost of the book would still be less than R200. The duty required, of R53.42, is thus in excess of 25%. This, in my opinion, is nothing short of criminal. This is a book - it is not a designer handbag or the latest playstation game. It is a necessity, not a luxury. I was outraged.
Once I'd collected the book, I took a closer look at the documentation. It turned out that the duty was R25, a "mere" 12-or-so%, but that the balance of R28.42 was for VAT. Given that the price of £12.99 incuded VAT, I was a bit surprised that I was required to pay VAT twice - once to the UK Chancellor and once to Trev. If I'd hopped on a plane, bought the item in the UK and brought it back in my luggage, I'd have paid VAT only once, so why was this any different? Ive bought many items from amazon.co.uk, and can't recall ever having had to pay VAT twice.
Paying VAT for books at all galls; paying VAT for books twice is outrageous. Is a literacy rate of 0% the ultimate aim of such a policy?