With the state facing a dire budget crisis, a California politician plans to introduce new legislation that would tax consumers of
Democrat State Assemblymember Alberto Torrico said he plans to push for new legislation that would place a tax on the goods and products associated with the adult entertainment industry.
Torrico's spokesman Jeff Barbosa said the amount of the tax had not been determined, but the legislation could be introduced within a few weeks.
The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of a similar bill's defeat in August. A 25% excise tax on adult products and productions proposed by Assemblyman Charles Calderon gained no traction in the assembly and died in committee.
In light of a $15 billion state budget deficit, New York Governor, David Paterson, has proposed an additional 4% tax on all digitally delivered entertainment services,
including online adult content.
Following the proposition, the iPod tax was immediately met with criticism from not only the adult entertainment industry, which has largely dismissed the tax as a publicity stunt, but also from the conservatives, who fear that such a tax would
legitimize the downloading and viewing of adult content.
You're sending a message to children, and you're sending a message to teenagers: If you're taxing it, how can it be wrong? said state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long.
Paterson's proposed tax is the most recent of a seemingly popular trend in that it follows similar propositions in California and more recently, Washington.
At least one constitutional scholar questions the legality of such a tax.
If the tax were limited to [MP3, porn and other entertainment downloads], there would be some substantial problems, said attorney Reed Lee, an expert in constitutional law: If it's an attempt to tax all Internet traffic, whether that be
downloading the latest NASA pictures from Mars for scientific purposes or what, as well as entertainment downloads, then that has a much better chance of passing constitutional muster. In general, a tax designed to impose a burden on specific expression
will face the most serious constitutional obstacles in court.
Lee cited two late-'80s cases involving the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper and the Arkansas Writers Project. In the Minneapolis case, the government tried to place a sales tax on newsprint - and failed.
A government can impose a sales tax on newspapers and magazines, so long as it also imposes a sales tax on everything else, Lee explained. But a sales tax on only newspapers and magazines might pose a serious constitutional problem. And one
imposed only on Playboy and Penthouse would face virtually insurmountable problems.
Wisconsin has followed in the footsteps of New York State by passing a stimulus bill that includes a measure for adding sales tax to digital downloads starting October 1. The bill also includes budget cuts as well as a variety of tax increases to patch
Wisconsin's $600m shortfall under its current budget set to expire June 30.
But the bill is getting a lot of media play for its digital tax provisions, fingered as (the arguably misleading moniker of) an "iPod tax." The name obviously downplays the true reach of the tax, which levies a 4 per cent charge on
"digitally delivered entertainment services" including music, movies, e-books, greeting cards, ringtones, and many other downloadable items. It's expected to generate $11m for the state over two years.
Wisconsin state legislature has now approved a 5% tax on Internet downloads to take effect in October.
Backed by Governor Jim Doyle, the tax will apply to music, movies, downloads, games, ringtones, e-books, greeting cards and other items, according to the Associated Press. This would presumably include adult content.
Representative Mark Miloscia gave it his best shot, but his proposal to tax adult entertainment products and services to fund
unemployment and welfare benefits is dead - mainly because it's too complicated.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rep. Ross Hunter , chair of the state House Finance Committee, had originally said he'd give a hearing to House Bill 2103, but thought better of it after remembering that the state had previously signed
onto the 2002 Streamline Sales and Use Tax Agreement, whose fundamental purpose is to simplify and modernize sales and use tax administration in the member states in order to substantially reduce the burden of tax compliance.
Miloscia's porn tax bill, it seems, in attempting to put a tax on goods based on their content, wouldn't fly under the simplification agreement - and besides, a tax based on content is just unconstitutional.
State Assemblyman Alberto Torrico has introduced a bill that would place a tax on adult entertainment products sold in California.
The tax percentage was not written into the bill introduced Friday; however, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa told XBIZ that the bill is still in the beginning process” and that legislative analysts will provide a tax amount shortly.
The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of dwindling state coffers, as well as the assemblyman's push to provide a domestic abuser surveillance fund to track abusers and stalkers.
The bill's language, as it stands, only includes a proposed tax on the sale of harmful matter goods at the retail level.
Pornographic material and adult entertainment might be getting a lot more expensive in the state of Alabama.
The Alabama House Ways and Means Committee passed the proposed porn tax in a 10-4 vote for an extortionately high rate of tax to offset a massive budget shortfall .
In addition to any other applicable taxes, a 40% state excise tax will be levied on gross receipts from the sale, rental or admission charges of pornographic material. The tax will apply to any and all forms of pornographic or sexually explicit content
purchased in the state of Alabama, including, but not limited to, pornographic magazines, adult videos, and online adult rentals.
The porn tax bill now heads to the Alabama House for a floor vote.
Thanks to the state Senate, Alabama was able to avoid an anticipated First Amendment lawsuit over its budget proposal, which included an
extortionate tax on pornography.
In order to make up a $200 million shortfall , Alabama wanted to raise taxes with sin taxes. On Sept. 15, the porn tax failed to pass the Senate, during a budget vote in which the chamber approved two budget reform measures while also raising
taxes by roughly $86 million annually .
As proposed, the tax on porn was clearly unconstitutional. The First Amendment protects artistic expression, even if pornographic. Alabama, by taxing the specific category of pornographic material, is directly engaging in content-based discrimination,
something the Supreme Court does not allow. Indeed, in the 1972 case Police Department v. Mosely , the Court noted that above all else, the First Amendment means that the government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its
ideas, its subject matter, or its content. Thus, regulations that treat a category of content differently than other categories will be held unconstitutional unless it passes the exacting legal test of strict scrutiny.
Strict scrutiny requires a compelling governmental interest that is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of accomplishing that interest. Absent those factors, a law will be deemed unconstitutional.