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Study: Poles against smartphone tax

Warsaw, 2nd March2021

Study: Poles against smartphone tax

As many as three-quarters of respondents are against extending the reprographic fee to laptops, desktop computers, tablets, TV sets and smartphones. Works on such a project are ongoing at the Polish Ministry of Culture. The survey also shows that almost 9 out of 10 Poles consider this fee an additional tax, and more than half of all respondents believe that the state in times of a pandemic should be reducing taxes on electronic appliances.

The reprographic fee is added to the price of electronic equipment and is later transferred to organisations responsible for collective management of copyright or related rights, such as the Polish Society of Authors and Composers ZAiKS. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is working on a draft act which is to cover with the aforementioned fee smartphones, tablets, TVs and computers, to name just a few. Its rate can be as high as 6%, which will translate into an increase in equipment prices by even as much as PLN 300-600. As many as 75% of people who participated in the survey conducted by Social Changes at the turn of January and February this year are against such a solution.

“Many Poles are forced to undertake unplanned expenses. Therefore, the introduction of yet another tax that will increase the prices of devices currently necessary for work and study is completely incomprehensible,” claims Michał Kanownik, President of ZIPSEE Digital Poland, and adds: “The introduction of the smartphone tax will be a blow not only to consumers, but also Polish importers and distributors of electronics. These companies employ tens of thousands of people. An additional levy will certainly affect their ability to compete with foreign companies.”

The conducted survey clearly shows that as many as 86% of Poles believe that the new fee is a form of tax. Moreover, more than half (54% of respondents) believe that during a pandemic, the state should be lowering taxation of electronics, not the other way round. The more so, as only 1 in 4 Poles have bought new equipment as a result of the pandemic.

“It is always better to prevent a disease rather than to treat it later. Due to the fact that for many months there has been an ongoing debate regarding the proposal to extend the reprographic fee, known as the smartphone tax, we decided to check what Poles think about this solution. Introducing this additional burden will, on the one hand, be a blow to consumers, and on the other hand, Polish entrepreneurs. Suffice to say, one of the few industries where Polish entities have achieved a leading position. This proposed tax has no social acceptance. Therefore, we believe that there is still time to withdraw from it,” says Cezary Kaźmierczak, President of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers.

According to the survey, 54% of Poles declare that after the introduction of the fee, they will buy equipment less often (24%) or much less often (30%). The negative effects of the fee will be most severe in case of the elderly (33%) who are already the group most exposed to digital exclusion today.

“Looking at these results, I can say that Poles understand well how taxes or para-taxes affect prices. Neither do they fall for linguistic tricks that if we call something a fee instead of a tax that it will not affect the price,” emphasises Andrzej Przybyło, CEO of the Lower Silesian AB Group, the largest electronics distributor in Central and Eastern Europe. “According to Eurostat, electronics in Poland are currently the cheapest in Europe. When the new tax is introduced, they will become the most expensive. Meanwhile, I have recently read that the Ministry of Culture is not worried about this state of affairs, because they assume that Poles will buy new equipment in Germany in prices in Poland are too high. All any Polish entrepreneur can say is ‘no comments’,” he adds.

The survey also checked how respondents evaluate their economic situation during the pandemic. As many as 4 out of 10 people feel it has deteriorated, of which every tenth person believes that their situation worsened significantly. Most people (58%) are aware of prices going up and increased costs of living compared to times before the pandemic. Only every third respondent is of the opinion that the costs of living have remained the same, and only 9% that they have become lower.

At the same time, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that some people or certain industries ought to be supported as part of anti-crisis aid: food services, tourism, sports and recreation in particular.

As many as 91% of respondents are against the retirement privilege for artists. This may mean that the pandemic is not really a good time to implement ideas of this kind. Furthermore, systemic solutions that have not been preceded by a broad public debate are even more unacceptable.

“A representative group of over 2,000 people participated in our study. Unequivocally, it shows that respondents are against the introduction of another fee, which will mean an increase in prices. Moreover, many people declared that due to the pandemic, they had to invest in new equipment. This especially concerns students or parents of young and adolescent children. The introduction of a new fee will cause the vast majority of Poles to limit their shopping or abandon the idea entirely. Senior respondents paid particular attention to this aspect – this may have a negative impact on them and end up in digital exclusion,” says Marek Grabowski, President of Social Changes research centre.

The study was conducted on the online panel using the CAWI method in the period 29th January – 2nd February 2021. The nationwide sample N=2240 comprised people aged 18 and over. The structure of the sample was designed to reflect the population in terms of gender, age and place of residence.

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