It's official: The Value Added Tax (VAT) required for purchases made in the European Union (EU) now extends to non-EU companies. The VAT, which ranges from 15 to 25 percent, depending on the product and country the customer resides in, represents a substantial amount. If you have online business customers overseas, you'll have to collect the VAT for digital sales. That includes software downloads, paid content, online auctions, e-books, Web hosting and other electronic services. Details on enforcement are sketchy, but there are potential monetary fines for late VAT payments or nonregistration.
Fortunately, entrepreneurs don't have to register with each EU member state--only one is required. The UK Customs site simplifies the process by allowing you to sign up online at https://secure.hmce.gov.uk/ecom/voes if you choose the UK. Visit the EU's VAT site at www.eurunion.org/legislat/vatweb.htm for more on who is required to register and what items are covered by the new law.
A Knack for
Whenever Apple announces a new operating system version and processor upgrade, it's a big event. It's also a time for Mac-using entrepreneurs to think about whether or not going along for the upgrade is a good idea.
The new desktop G5 processor tops out at a 2GHz clock speed but offers performance comparable to the fastest Intel-based PCs. On the low end, a well-stocked 1.6GHz Power Mac skims in at just less than $2,000, still more than a comparably configured PC. But if you're working with graphics-intensive or database programs, the G5s offer a combination of high-end features and integration that turns Mac users into devotees. Visit www.apple.com for the full rundown of new features, like super-quiet fans and standard recordable DVD drives.
Coming out at the end of this year is the $129 Mac OS X version 10.3 upgrade, code-named "Panther." A lot of small improvements are included, ranging from an overhauled interface to easier networking with Windows PCs to VPN security software. The pièce de résistance is the iChat AV software that offers an easy-to-use, full-screen videoconferencing and audioconferencing solution between Macs.
This might not work so well between you and your clients if they're not Mac-equipped but could be an elegant and inexpensive solution for communicating over broadband with satellite offices or employees at different work sites.