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

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.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.