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Porn is looking good to the taxman
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Joe the Salesman returns to his hotel room in Virginia for the night and clicks on a pay-per-view movie. We know what that movie is about (wink, wink).
Pretty soon that movie may very well cost a little more.
Today, the Virginia House of Delegates sent to the governor's desk a 10% tax on pay-for-view movies watched in hotel rooms. Of course, not all pay-per-view movies are adult entertainment. But it's just one way states are looking to tax porn to fill mounting budget gaps.
According to The Associated Press, the pay-per-view tax revenue would be split between the general fund and another used to attract filmmakers to Virginia. The delegates rejected a suggestion that it fund highways. (One delegate said that would be like "relying on the porn industry to build roads in Virginia," the AP said.)
In New York, Gov. David Patterson is proposing a sales tax on downloaded software, music and other entertainment, which would include the adult variety, the AP reports. The so-called "iPod tax" would amount of 4%, but only if the retailer has a presence in New York state.
In Washington state, which faces a $6 billion shortfall, a legislator is calling for an 18.5% tax on the sale of adult entertainment products and services, like phone sex. Opponents there say the tax would be unconstitutional because it would target a particular type of speech, The Seattle Times reports.
The fact is, taxing porn can raise constitutional issues. As Reese Schonfeld wrote at The Huffington Post, you can't use taxation to censor speech. But, he muses, maybe a tax on the distributors of pay-per-view porn wouldn't be so bad.
"If we could only get the blue-noses to shut up about ‘saving our children' and accept a porn tax as a way to save us all from another tax increase, maybe we could actually get it through Congress," he wrote.
Other porn-related tax proposals are expected to surface. CBS4 critic Greg Moody in Denver said that "thanks to this economy and strapped state budgets, it's going to be happening all over." .
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