KUALA LUMPUR: Local booksellers and publishers have raised concerns over the goods and services tax (GST), saying it may cause confusion in their industry.

They say that there is overlapping between standard-rated and zero-rated books.

“There is no proper definition of either category,” said Malaysian Booksellers Association (MBA) president Keith Thong.

Under the GST (Zero-Rated Supply) Order 2014, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, text, reference, work and religious books will be zero-rated and will not be subjected to GST, which comes into effect next April.


Otherwise, the standard 6% GST will be imposed on all other types of books, which are categorised as standard-rated.

“The issue is that there are many different kinds of books in the market, which leads to confusion,” said Thong.

“Take textbooks, for example – they are so diverse. The range and format of the content being delivered have many options,” he said.

“Classic novels or even graphic novels used as textbooks in a college may be categorised in a bookstore as general reading and have the full tax applied instead of being zero-rated.”

The book industry groups raised these and other concerns during a briefing on GST that was organised by the Customs department here on Monday.

“I think there needs to be standardisation by the government,” said Thong.

He recommended that the government discuss with groups such as the MBA, Malaysian Book Exporters and Importers Association, Malaysian Book Publishers Association, Malaysian Scholarly Publication Council and the Malaysian Bumiputra Book Publishers and Distributors Association.

Selina Lee, a trade director with an international publisher, said: “Because of the exemptions on book sales to certain ministries and schools, we will have to change our receipt system and point of sales (POS) system.”

She, too, is in favour of standardised book tax rates, adding that her company dealt with thousands of book ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) and having to define every title would be a tedious process.

A Customs official said that proper discussions would be held.

Source: www.thestar.com.my