[NetBehaviour] When politicians tax violent video games.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Tue Apr 14 11:58:37 CEST 2009

When politicians tax violent video games.

Happy Tax Day! As you fill out your tax forms, today we turn to the 
time-honored tactic of politicians pandering to their base: taxing 
violent video games.

Taxing video games has a storied history in state legislatures. The 
reality is that video games, violent or otherwise, simply make too much 
money to be stopped. But taxing them is a viable compromise, a "sin tax" 
of sorts similar to that levied on cigarettes.

Tax legislation proposals provide valuable insights into the mind of the 
politician proposing them. The percentage of tax provides a measure of 
urgency. Taxes under five percent are usually meant to quell the 
politician's base without offending game development companies who bring 
valuable dollars to the state. The higher the tax proposal, the less 
likely the proposer is interested in getting the law passed.

The most telling aspect of tax legislation on video games is what 
happens to the funds from the tax. Often, the tax funds are in direct 
response to the social problems video games supposedly cause: obesity, 
juvenile delinquency and poor education.

Most recently, The Children and Youth Committee of the Pennsylvania 
House of Representatives conducted a hearing on violent video games. 
Various proposals to curb violent games included a five percent tax with 
funds allocated to parental education programs.


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