A CONTROVERSIAL tax proposed for library books has sparked a raging debate among intellectual circles in Spain.

The government has announced that libraries will now be ordered to pay €0.05 for every registered user that checks out books at least once a year in Spain, and €0.04 to authors when their books are borrowed, with each library responsible for reporting its records to the tax office.

The first of these two measures has already taken effect, and the second will launch in 2016.

A ‘holdover tax’ – which requires libraries to pay €0.16 to the author for every new book acquired – is currently in place, but this does not as yet include a payment every time the book is borrowed.

While the tax clearly benefits authors, its critics say that library budgets have already been pushed to the limit during the recession.

In the last year alone, funding for libraries has been cut from €78 million to €69 million.

Many critics of the tax insist that libraries will not update their inventories in order to avoid paying the costs.

The good news, however, is that teaching centres and libraries in towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants are excluded from the tax.

A trial of a similar scheme was introduced by the EU in 2007, which collected just €127 across the whole of Spain.

The plans have revived arguments over the value of information in the 21st century, that had only just settled down following Spain’s announcement of the ‘Google Tax’ last month.

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