In order to dampen the economic consequences of the corona crisis and stimulate the economy, the Bundestag has decided to temporarily lower sales tax. Since July 1, until the end of the year, only 16 percent of sales tax has been incurred instead of 19, and the reduced tax rate – for example for groceries and everyday goods – has dropped from seven to five percent. Companies are free to pass this reduction on to consumers. Apple does it only partially.
Cheaper, crooked prices in the Apple Store
A look at the Apple Online Store shows: Curvy prices wherever you look. An iPhone SE has cost 466.90 euros there since July 1. Before that, the price was 479 euros. The MacBook Air currently costs 1,168.75 euros instead of 1,199. And so on. Apple is therefore passing on the sales tax reduction 1: 1 to customers. These crooked, sales psychologically not very sensible, prices run through the entire range in the Apple Store – apparently with the exception of AppleCare +.
Prices for digital products and services unchanged
It is different with digital products and services. Final Cut Pro costs 329.99 euros in the Mac App Store, 9.99 euros per month for Apple Music and an iCloud storage plan with 200 gigabytes of storage costs 2.99 euros per month. Apple does not pass on the sales tax reduction to customers for digital products. In other words: Apple has increased the net prices for digital products so that, taking into account the lower sales tax, the same gross price is ultimately the final amount on the invoice and in the offers.
Many countries, many tax rates
A possible explanation: Digital products and Apple services are priced the same everywhere in the euro area, although there are sometimes significant differences in VAT rates in the individual countries. Because the normal tax rate within the EU is between 16 and 27 percent. Apple – and the app store developers – are already earning different amounts of money from selling digital products in different countries. There is also a fixed price scale in the App Store. Hardware products, on the other hand, already have different gross prices in the EU. For example, the iPhone SE costs around EUR 479 in Austria, although the sales tax rate there is 20 percent, slightly above the normal tax rate in Germany. In Finland, an iPhone SE costs 499 euros – the sales tax rate there is 24 percent.
Companies pay more because of higher net prices
The increase in net prices for digital products and services has another side effect that is relevant for some companies. Because while the above-mentioned offers for end consumers cost the same as before – they just haven’t gotten cheaper – they have become more expensive for companies entitled to deduct input tax. Because for them, sales tax as input tax is only a throughput item – money that you get back from the tax office. So far, companies entitled to deduct input tax have, for example, B. paid a net price of 277.30 euros for Final Cut Pro. At the moment, however, the net price for the editing software is 284.74 euros.
Apfeltalk contacted Apple Germany today and asked for an opinion, which is why the sales tax reduction is only passed on to customers for hardware sales. Apple did not want to comment on it.