Valve email reveals Steam tax hikes coming to ten countries, more could be on the way

It doesn't necessarily mean Steam prices will go up, but they might.

It came to light earlier this week that Australians will soon have to pay ten percent GST—Goods and Services Tax—on their Steam purchases. We noted at the time that a handful of other nations will also be affected by similar taxes, including New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Iceland, South Africa and India. Now the full list of countries that will have to start paying taxes on Steam purchases, as well as how much and when, has been revealed in an email (via Gamespot) sent by Valve to Steam developers.    

Here's the schedule:

March:

  • Switzerland 8%
  • South Korea 10%
  • Japan 8%
  • New Zealand 15%
  • Iceland 24%
  • South Africa 14%
  • India 15%

April:

  • Serbia 20%

May:

  • Taiwan 5%

July:

  • Australia 10%

The tax will not be piled on top of the purchase price at checkout, but "will be included in the advertised price of your product, just like VAT is currently treated in the EU," the email said. "This means the customer will pay the price displayed on the storefront, and the tax will be separated out afterwards." So purchase prices won't necessarily go up, or go up as high as they could, as publishers could opt to eat some or all of the percentage. That may not seem likely to happen, but publishers might be inclined to do so because, with the tax hidden in the purchase price, any sudden, sharp increase in cost will be laid at their feet.

Steam users who live in other jurisdictions may eventually face the added taxes as well: As reported by PCGamesN, Valve said in the email that "we expect to add other individual countries over the course of 2017-2018, depending on applicable law." 

As to why Valve is making these changes now, it may be tangentially related to the European Commission's investigation into "suspected anti-competitive practices." That investigation, which also includes Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media, and ZeniMax, is focused on whether the use of region-locked activation keys violates EU rules on "parallel trade," but it may also have convinced Valve to make doubly sure that it's in full compliance with rules across the board.

I've emailed Valve for more information about the changes, and will update if and when I receive a reply.