Selling Digital Downloads


I am developing a site for a client that is planning to sell an audiobook through his websoye. He is not ready to go the Audible/iTunes route just yet and just wants to have the download available from hos own site.

I know lots of people use Paddle, but, without signing up, I’m not sure how it handles VAT MOSS when selling to EU countries. I know @willwood sings the praises of Paddle and I myself have bought stacks from him (and others) via paddle.

As I understand the laws here in the UK, any business selling digital downloads to an EU country, has to:

First register for VAT with HMRC (even if they haven’t hit the turnover threshold)
Then register for VAT MOSS

From there I unbderstand that VAT returns have to be submitted to HMRC for each EU country you sell into and they will take care of the tax owed in each of these conutries. Sounds like a giant pain in the neck!

What I don’t understand is if something like paddle takes away this pain? Do I still need to do the VAT returns or is the tax taken care of in the payment process? Also, are prices automatically displayed in local currency according to wher the customer is downloading from. I know I see prices in GBP when, say I buy from Will but I wasn’t sure if that would change if I were resident in say, Spain or France?

Also what happens if a sale is made outside the EU, say, in the US? Is local tax added automatically?

Sorry for the newbie questions but I haven’t used a system like this before.

Many thanks in advance


Padle takes care of all that for you, from their help base:

Paddle acts as a Digital Platform for the purposes of EU VAT. Put simply, Paddle acts as a re-seller of your product, meaning that we can collect the relevant information about your customer, charge them the correct amount of tax, and return it to the relevant authority. No additional work is required on your part.

Thanks teefers, I was drawn to Paddle because there is no monthly fee and the tax handling sure will save a lot of pain. The percentage that Audible takes is too much for the client at the moment. I guess the Paddle fees depend on turnover (they’re a bit hard to find on the site)?

Now we’re out of the EU, UK VAT registration isn’t enough for selling into the EU. You need to either register for the Non-EU Member VAT MOSS scheme in an EU country or register for VAT in each member state in which you sell. Paddle would be a lot easier. It’s a grey area, but you might be able to avoid the hassle if the sale isn’t automated (but I wouldn’t risk it myself).

Thanks for that Peter, As I understand it having read the info from your link, the only way to get round this would be to manually email the Audiobook to each person who buys it so I think that’s out of the question, so I agree, Paddle seem the way to go.

Do you (or anyone else) know actually how much Paddle charge? They don’t share this information on their website.

I’d recommend Fastspring now. Paddle are very focused on bigger SASS businesses. We’re in the process of switching from Paddle to Fastspring for all our online sales.

Fastspring will handle all the VAT for you. Here’s Fastsprings page on VAT and Tax.

Hope that helps.

I’m lucky as I only sell books and ebooks. I never got around to selling ebooks directly because the EU brought in their absurd VAT regulations just when I was considering doing so. A large chunk of the cover price of my iBooks and Kindle books goes to Apple and Amazon but they get much more exposure than they would on my website, so I don’t mind. Nearly all my physical books (printed by Lightning Source) are sold via Amazon and it’s worth it to avoid shipping costs all over the world and the maze of paperwork which the EU demands. I did have to complete 20 or 30 US state tax declaration forms, though! :smile:

Thanks Dan, I’ll take a look at that. I must admit, I did get that impression from the Paddle site too. Do Fastspring have a standard monthly charge or do they charge a percentage of each transaction? I can’t seem to gleen any pricing information from any of them (except Chargebee). My client is not sure how sucessful this is going to be so does not want to commit to large monthlt prices expespially as the book will only sell for around £5.

Thanks Peter. Yes, my client is also selling physical books through Amazon but as well as the cost with something like Audible and iTunes, the audio requirements are quite strict and unfortunately he has not met them. He did not have the budget for them to be professionally recorded so he narrated them himself at home. Did you have to fill in any other paperwork for other conutries and do you have to do all your own returns?

No problem, Fastspring take a small % from each transaction. Just drop there support team an email.
But, I believe it’s based on the amount of sales you do with them, the higher the sales the lower you can get the fee.

Also, no VAT paperwork, eSellerate handle it all as they are officially the “Seller”, not you.

Thanks Dan, sounds promising, I’ll drop them a line.

No, I didn’t have to fill in any other paperwork. I have very few returns and an agreement with Lightning Source to destroy rather than return. Lightning Source pays me 3 months in arrears, but on the plus side, it simply deducts the production cost from the profit, so I never have to pay them up-front. Moreover, as I’m Lightning Source ‘certified’ (it doesn’t have any mental health connotations), I don’t have any setup charges. A US university recently bought 60 copies of one of my books and I didn’t have to lift a finger.

I wonder who will be the first developer to develop a ‘Fastspring’ stack?

Good shout! Anyone?

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