Taiwan mulls tax exemption for book publishers to save brick-and-mortar bookstores

Tax exemption plans need approval from the Ministry of Finance

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chun (Source: CNA/ File photo)

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chun (Source: CNA/ File photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese government is considering a business tax exemption for the publishing industry as its latest measure to save brick-and-mortar bookstores on the island.

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said during a Legislative Yuan session on Monday (Oct. 7) that the ministry has over the past two years been in talks with the country’s finance authorities about giving a business tax exemption to the publishing sector. Last month, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) conceived a plan that would include book publishing in its existing tax-free mechanisms, but the plans await approval from the Ministry of Finance, she said.

According to a PwC Taiwan report, total revenue from book sales in Taiwan was valued at US$963 million in 2018, a year-on-year decrease of 0.4 percent. The report also predicted a continuous decline in book publishing in the next five years.

However, Cheng said the market value of the publishing industry has improved as a result of government policy and efforts from the business sector after she took office. The publishing industry grew by one percent in 2017 and 0.8 percent last year following a five-year decline, which showed that the publishing business has stabilized in recent years, she added.

The minister also pointed out that closure of physical bookstores in Taiwan has slowed. According to government statistics, 171 new physical bookstores opened from 2013 to 2018, despite changing consumer behavior due to the proliferation of online stores and the popularity of e-books.