Pennsylvania state representative, Republican Christopher B. Quinn, proposed a bill back on September 25th, 2018 to add a tax to violent video games as part of the Digital Protection for School Safety Account measure, along with additional “imposing penalties”.
The bill was last updated on October 12th, 2018 when it was referenced in the House, as documented over on the Pennsylvania state website.
The tax would be 10% of the purchase price, and it would be in addition to existing state and local sales taxes. If you read the full bill, it states…
“A tax is imposed on each separate sale at retail of video games which have an adults only rating or mature rating according to the rating system established by the board. […] The tax imposed under subsection (a) shall be imposed and collected at the rate 10% of the purchase price per video game sold. The additional rate of tax shall be in addition to any applicable State and local sales taxes.”
Niche Gamer is reporting that Quinn proposed the house bill back in September, but that not everyone is on board with the bill and that it’s already receiving opposition.
The Media Coalition posted a rebuttal to the bill back on September 27th, 2018, where it states…
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that video games are fully protected by the First Amendment. In Brown v. Entertainment Merch. Ass’n and Entertainment Software Ass’n, the Court struck down a California law that banned minors from buying or renting video games with certain violent imagery. 564 U.S. 786 (2011).
“[…] The state may not levy a tax on video game (or other media) based on their content unless the tax satisfies strict scrutiny. While the state may include the sale or rental of speech in a general sales tax, the Supreme Court has firmly established that the First Amendment bars a tax based on the content of the speech.”
Citing case law might help in keeping the bill from moving forward. However, Quinn decided to cite studies in the bill claiming that video games can help increase aggression in kids, which he hopes to convince other members of the House to vote in favor of the bill, this is despite the fact that there are also studies stating that violent video games don’t make you violent.
Quinn, however, isn’t the first politician this year to propose regulating violent video games, or adding an additional charge to M-rated games. While Republican Diane Black blamed violent video games and porn for the school shootings that take place, it was district Congressman, Republican Bradley Byrne who originally suggested regulating violent video games back in February of 2018. This was taken a step further when state representative of Rhode Island, Republican Robert A. Nardolillo III suggested that video games featuring violent content needed to be taxed. This led to President Donald Trump suggesting a possible “Terror rating” for video games and a White House summit with top game publishers to decry violence in video games. Luckily, nothing came out of the meeting.
Nevertheless, it appears as if the never ending fight to keep video games out of the hands of the government rages on.
(Thanks for the news tip KrazyChan)