Tuesday, January 11, 2011


This has to be filed under the "Things I don't like about Chile" category. The IVA, or incredibly high book tax. Books here are very heavily taxed with, what I'm told, is a 19% mark up. This means a normal, soft-cover bestseller will be between $28-$30.

Some hard cover books or books not easily found can be incredibly expensive, getting up to the $60-$80 range. This is anti-intellectualism at it's worst. Some people defend the IVA because the money from these taxes are supposed to go into a fund that pays for natural disaster repairs, like after the earthquake. No one wants to do without that right?

But there has to be an alternative to this. What about sin taxes? Cigarettes and booze are pretty popular. Why not levy taxes on those items? They'd probably make more money because people buy more of those things on a regular basis.

Instead what results is that many people buy their books from photocopies sold on the street, or worse, don't read at all. A tragedy. I've been dying to buy this coffee table book with images from the communist revolution in Chile in the 1960s for months now, but can't bear to pay the $45 or so dollars it would cost, although in fairness coffee table books are usually pretty expensive.

It's amazing to think that two books shipped from the U.S. in a $40 flat-rate box are actually cheaper than buying two books in the bookstore.

Can't the government reallocate some of the money it's making hand-over-fist from those copper mines up north?

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