The OK Legislature Wants To Tax Violent Video Games
What is it with Oklahoma lately? I’m from there and I couldn’t begin to tell you. Why, less than a week ago, a state rep with the hilarious name Ralph Shortey tried to introduce a bill that would outlaw something that doesn’t exist. Funny! It (probably) will die in committee, incidentally. Maybe they just don’t care. But one thing the good people doing politics in the Sooner state do care about is video games. You’ll recall in December how grumpy Senate Republican Tom Coburn railed against a video game museum in his annual wasteful spending report. Boo!
Well, now the video game focus goes bipartisan with a proposed bit of legislation, irst introduced back in January by Democratic state representative William Fourkiller*, that would add an additional excise tax of 1% on ‘violent video games’. While one is tempted to be annoyed by this, I should confess that I have no issue with taxes on booze and smoking. And while gaming is NOT booze or smoking, the realization by legislators normally inclined to freak out and try restricting them, that they represent taxable income and not a chance to BURN THE WITCH, is somewhat promising. Once the state has an established revenue stream, they have a vested interest in keeping the thing alive.
There’s also the issue of what the taxes would fund. “The Oklahoma Tax Commission shall deposit fifty percent (50%) of the amount collected pursuant to this section in the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund created pursuant to Section 3 of this act and the remaining fifty percent (50%) shall be deposited in the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund created pursuant to Section 4 of this act.” Damned if I have a hard time mustering up a problem with those programs.
Of course, the net cast by this bill is wide. Here is how the bill describes that:
“In addition to any other tax provided for by law, there is hereby levied upon persons storing, using, or otherwise consuming within this state, tangible personal property purchased or brought into this state, an excise tax on the storage, use, or other consumption in this state of all violent video games, based on the gross receipts or purchase price of such property at a rate specified by subsection B of this section.”
This doesn’t just mean that the bill essentially singles out anything not made for the Yo Gabba Gabba set or for educational purposes, though it does that. It also suggests that rentals would be subject to the new tax, and perhaps even arcade games. Kind of confusing, that. On the other hand, at least Fourkiller has been careful to define terms clearly: “As used in this section, “violent video game” means a video or computer game that has received a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board of Teen, Mature or Adult Only.”
Frankly. I suspect this isn’t likely to pass. As Game Politics points out in their post on this bill, New Mexico tried to pass a similar bill a few years ago. It died. I expect Oklahoma’s anti tax zealotry will carry the day.
So what about it, GameFronters? Pro or anti this kind of thing? Let us know in comments.
*Coolest name ever.