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How Spain's new digital tax will affect the price of mobiles, tablets and tech

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The Local ([email protected])
How Spain's new digital tax will affect the price of mobiles, tablets and tech
There are many who criticise the government’s decision to increase the digital tax given that piracy rates in Spain have dropped in recent years. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images via AFP)

The Spanish government is set to update its digital levies, which will result in people in Spain paying more for everything from smartphones to tablets, smartwatches, external hard drives and other electronic devices.

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Life keeps getting more expensive in Spain, and this time it's the Spanish government which is behind a decision which will result in consumers paying more for everyday gadgets many of us use.

The idea behind el canon digital (digital levy or tax) is to compensate music, film and other audiovisual producers, artists and authors for the illegal storage of private books, movies, CDs, and all other types of digital content that are pirated.

The digital tax has actually been around since 2017, but Spanish authorities are now set to increase the levies even further, resulting in an added cost for the public.

Once the updated legislation is approved, it will lead to an increase in the price of between 40 and 104 different products, resulting in up to a 200 percent rise in this tax.

Consumers will go from paying digital levy of €1.1 to €3.25 for smartphones, an increased levy of €3.75 for tablets and a cost of €2.50 for smartwatches, which have recently been included in the list. This may not seem like a lot but it all adds up as it affects all manner of tech products: SSD drives, printers, mp3 players, smartwatches, kindles, memory cards, scanners, CD writers and more.

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The product with the most added tax will now be a hard disk drive with more than 6.01 TB of storage, which will cost €6.45 extra, while the product with the lowest will be a rewritable CD with an extra cost of 0.08. 

However, due to the drop in the use of some devices, the tax has also been reduced for certain products such as desktop computers from €5.45 to €5.32 and for printers from €5.25 to €4.

READ ALSO: How changes to the law will affect your phone contract in Spain

There are many who criticise the government’s decision to increase the digital tax, including the manufacturers of the products themselves, arguing that there is no need for the levy to be increased or exist as piracy rates are already low in Spain thanks to the rising popularity of digital platforms such as Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime.

Many experts argue that the legislation is only in place for the government to collect more money from consumers.

Although the maximum amount that has been added to each device is only €5.50, since the digital tax was introduced in 2017, the government has collected around €211.2 million.

It may be impossible to calculate the impact of the new rates, but experts estimate that if the mobile rate is tripled – the most popular device – it will be much higher than in 2020, which saw a record collection of €67 million, including VAT.

Despite the criticism, sources indicate that the prices established in the updated draft law will remain unchanged.

It is not yet known exactly when the new decree will be approved, but according to Spanish Culture Minister Miqel Iceta, everything is ready for it to be approved, meaning that it is likely to affect consumers sooner rather than later. 

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