Final Word from Thursday, February 17, 2011



When Czechs use Amazon's German site for the first time to buy CDs, DVDs or books, they might be surprised to pay a slightly higher amount than the advertised price (in addition to the €7 flat-rate postal charge). Amazon tacks on the difference between Germany's VAT rates of 7% and 19% and the CR's rates of 10% and 20%. If the Nečas cabinet moves more items into the 20% bracket as part of pension reform, the difference will become even more conspicuous. The CR is on track to become one of the European countries with the highest weighted-average VAT rate. The Czechs will even give some Scandinavian countries a run for their money, but in these countries taxpayers tend to get more bang for their tax buck. Increasing the tax on consumption might be justifiable if the money is put to effective use. In Czech VAT hell, however, much of the money will go toward funding the theft from the national budget. Assuring this uninterrupted money flow is in fact one of the unstated reasons for the VAT increase.

Glossary of difficult words

flat rate - a charge that is the same in all cases, not varying in proportion with something; (Amazon.de charges a slightly higher amount for heavy or large items);

to tack something on - to add or append something to something already existing;

conspicuous - standing out so as to be clearly visible;

to be on track - on course; making progress toward;

weighted-average VAT - used here to mean the average rate people pay based on the volume of the goods and services consumed in the individual VAT brackets;

to give someone a run for his money - to provide someone or something with challenging competition or opposition (meant here in an ironical sense);

bang for your buck - value for money; performance for cost (buck meaning dollar in this sense).

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