VAT rate reduction

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As of 1st July 2011, the lower rate of VAT has been reduced to 9% from 13.5%. The retail prices of EastWest Mapping publications have been adjusted accordingly and for example, our Dublin & Wicklow map sheets should now be selling at €9.55 in the shops. If you notice them selling at the old price of €9.95, please advise the shop owner.

Of course, the idea of charging VAT at 9% or 13.5% on maps where books are rated at 0% is entirely ridiculous. Information is carried on maps and in books. In books the primary vehicle is text wheras a map uses text and graphic symbols. Both are forms of language, one English etc., the other a graphic language. So if I were to take the contents of just one of our map sheets and present it in text form, bound as a book, it would attract VAT at 0%. Of course it would run to several lengthy volumes, be largely unintelligible and be practically no use to anybody at all. The idea of a map is to present such information in a clearer fashion and thus make it more accessible to the ordinary man. This distinction and concept seems to have past our Revenue Commissioners by though…

There are also other ramifications. On hearing that our former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern published a memoir and received 'artists exemption' tax relief as it was considered a work of 'cultural merit', I decided to investigate. I considered that our efforts to collate, collect and publish many placenames & heritage sites in Co. Wicklow might reasonably constitute a 'work of cultural merit'. Doubtless you may agree and as far as I know, The Heritage Council agreed – but the Revenue Commissioners still declined on the basis that the publications were…. you guessed maps and not books. Hmm – not impressed!