Buying books in Thailand is now a tax write-off

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Read your way to a lower tax bill?

A new government measure to encourage spending – which is keeping the economy afloat – is letting consumers write off purchases of books, e-books, school supplies and other sports and educational goods through the end of the year.

The latest in a series of “Shop to Save the Nation” stimulus programs allows all taxpayers (noncitizens included) deduct up to THB15,000 ($470) of such expenditures on books, stationary, school uniforms, text books and so on from their personal income taxes.

To get the deductions, taxpayers must obtain proper receipts at the time of purchase and submit them when they file their personal income tax. It’s applicable to purchases made through the end of 2019. It means that any purchase of books or other eligible goods made during 2019 can be written off, as it follows a similar initiative that ran Dec. 15 to Jan. 16.

The government, which is eager to promote spending that is bolstering sagging economic growth, are relying on the Thais-don’t-read trope to promote it as a way to benefit society.

Growth of Thai economy slows to 5-year low

Though the National Statistical Office says that Thai reading habits have increased by about 14 minutes per day since 2015, Wissanu said it was insufficient compared to people in developed countries.

Reading is a priority highlighted in the latest economic and social development plan, a fact deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam pointed out yesterday following a presser on government efforts to promote literacy.

While e-books are valid, Wissanu noted that electronic goods are not covered by the initiative.

Wissanu clearly hasn’t read a much-cited claim that Thais are the world’s second-most avid readers behind Indians. Whether that’s true is difficult to substantiate – despite being referenced by hundreds of news articles and web pages, the only trace of the NOP World Culture Score Index is a press release from 2005.

Graph showing hours each country spends reading around the world. Source: NOP World Culture Score Index
Graph showing hours each country spends reading around the world. Source: NOP World Culture Score Index

The reported results of a 2005 survey claiming Thais read more hours per week reading than anyone except Indians. It also found they watched the most television.

Related Story:

Growth of Thai economy slows to 5-year low

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