1. I think we can all agree that 2014 was a bit pants. So far 2015 hasn’t been much of an improvement, which is unsurprising considering that January 1st is a chronological designation chosen arbitrarily to mark the conclusion of a full solar orbit and not a magical life reset button. HAPPY NEW YEAR.
2. First on the list of things that are AWESOME so far this year is this bit of news about new EU VAT regulations concerning digital products. Long and painfully detailed story short, any seller of digital products (that’s me!) is now required to pay VAT in the country where the buyer is located, rather than in the country of sale. This means keeping track of the location of every purchaser, including obtaining and keeping two sources of evidence of the purchaser’s address (I have no idea how to do this). As well, and most pertinently, VAT exemption thresholds no longer apply. In other words, instead of being eligible to pay VAT only on earnings above £30,000 or so (my tiny earnings have been exempt until now), I now have to pay VAT on every penny I earn from EU purchasers, even on a single collage sheet worth £3.
(VAT thresholds continue to apply to other small businesses, by the way. Just not to digital sellers. If I was selling hard copies of my collage sheets and shipping them to Belgium or Spain, I would still be exempt from paying VAT, but because I’m sending files in digital format, I have to pay. SEEMS TOTALLY FAIR.)
HMRC have set up a ‘one-stop shop’ for small businesses to allow them to calculate their returns online in a single place, rather than having to figure out VAT rates and make individual payments in more than a dozen countries. I’ve registered for this, but I genuinely have no idea how I can meet the criteria for proof of a buyer’s location. A PayPal receipt is not enough. Etsy will be introducing ‘tools’ of some kind to help manage this process, but it’s down to me to account for this information for the Rowan Tree shop. I can’t imagine a way to do this that won’t make the purchasing process more complicated, which will obviously have an impact on my (already insignificant) sales.
This is a huge bummer. HUGE. I’m seriously considering packing it all in and focusing on my neglected Zazzle store instead. The administrative burden is just too much for the amount of money I actually make. I’m not an EU-naysayer, but THIS IS GAY, Y’ALL.
Please, please sign this petition to maintain the VAT exemption thresholds for small businesses. It will take you less than a minute:
3. Topping today’s list of things that are making me grumpy, however, is my accommodation situation. I worry that this blog is turning into a diary of one woman’s descent into accommodation-induced madness. I’m still grateful every day that my walls aren’t covered in mould and that there’s no intermittent smell of sewage coming from under the sink. And I like the flat itself:
See? It’s nice enough. But it is cold. So very cold! Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night makes me feel like Captain Oates. My last flat was surrounded on three sides, so it stayed pretty toasty in winter, but this one is exposed on three sides, and I don’t think the walls are insulated, like, at all. Just bricks and then The Elements. The electric radiators do warm the place up pretty well, but they’re old and use a ton of electricity, and since I’m on a meter, I’m paying an absolute fortune to keep my fingers from falling off.
And my neighbours are the worst. Oh God, the WOOOOOOORST. The flat next door is like a clown car, except instead of clowns, it’s full of Polish people. Seriously, the entire population of Poland either lives or hangs out in this flat. They come and go constantly, at all hours, starting at about 6am, and every time they come or go, they SLAM the door so hard that my own doors rattle on their hinges. I’ve started jamming a rug under my front door to stop the vibrations, but it doesn’t make much of a difference.
And they SHOUT! Not one of the dozens of people regularly crammed into this tiny flat has ever encountered the concept of inside voices. I finally had enough the other day when it sounded like an actual fistfight was about to erupt. I asked them to please tone it down, and my hatchet-faced neighbour said “Sorry” and closed the door in my face. They were then slightly quieter than usual for about ten whole minutes, so hey! Diplomacy works.
The upstairs neighbours are less shouty and more stompy. I think they’re running a bowling alley up there. Or a tap-dancing school for elephants. I had to call in sick today because after finally getting to sleep at 2.30am (I always get a bit nocturnal over the hols), I was awakened at 5.30am by the sounds of a regimental march upstairs and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I am extremely, extremely crabby right now.
At around 8.30am, seven days a week, the Polish deli downstairs takes over the noise-making duties, banging doors and breaking down boxes and chucking pallets around with extreme prejudice right under my bedroom window.
I have a white noise app on my phone – every night I turn on ‘ocean waves’ at maximum volume and pretend like hell I’m on a beach far away, but it doesn’t help much.
The area under my bedroom window is a small courtyard, which opens to the flats and the back of the deli and has a set of double doors leading out to the street. Recently someone took it upon themselves to rip the doorknobs off these doors. They just pulled them right off! Why would someone do this, you ask? CHRIST KNOWS. Perhaps the doorknobs insulted their mother. Anyway, the end result is that the doors bang loudly all night if there’s the slightest bit of wind, and I have to sneak downstairs in my dressing gown under cover of darkness and prop them open with whatever’s lying around. If someone comes home after I do this, they usually un-prop the doors, and I have to do it again.
But wait! There’s MORE! Yesterday I went downstairs to find this:
While it looks as though someone has simply vomited freely all over the floor, the truth is actually much worse. That is backed-up sewage! Someone (landlord? Shop owners?) left this note:
Yeah, so apparently my neighbours are backward yokels from Borat’s home village who don’t know what toilets are for. WHY ARE PEOPLE PUTTING FOOD AND NAPPIES DOWN THE TOILET. I shudder to imagine what they put in the sink. And now I’m going to be charged for the resulting mess! Except screw that. I have never put anything down the bog that wasn’t what God intended to be in there, and I ain’t paying a cent.
I so desperately wish I could afford to move again. Except then what would I write about?