From the "we-could-have-told-you-that-without-a-poll department" comes this story from Politico about the public's opposition to Internet taxes. The polls - conducted for two separate conservative groups - found that most voters oppose federal Internet sales tax legislation and suggested that lawmakers who voted for it could face serious challenges in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Massachusetts State Rep. John Binienda (D-Worcester) is pushing for more tax incentives for the state's video games industry. It makes sense, given that Worcester is home to several video game development-focused colleges including Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and MassDIGI at Becker College.
On Sept. 10 the state lawmaker gave testimony promoting House Bill 2511, a bill he is the lead sponsor of that would extend a 25 percent tax credit currently given to the movie industry to game design and development within the state.
The Entertaintment Software Association (ESA) issued a press release this week praising the Texas Film Commission for expanding its economic incentives to include "digital interactive media productions."
Sony Australia is in a dispute with the Australian Taxation Office over $53 million AUD, which comes from five years of tax adjustments (back taxes owed and penalties) that the company believes are in error. A Sony Computer Entertainment Australia spokesperson confirmed the news with GameSpot, but added that its PlayStation business in Australia has not been affected by it. Sony is appealing the assessment.
UKIE, the trade body that represents the video game industry in the UK, says that it feels "pretty confident" that the tax break proposal will be approved by the European Union and that the doubts raised by the EU Commission over taxpayers contributing to the proposed relief will evaporate. Last year, the UK government approved tax breaks for the country's games sector, promising to provide 25 percent tax relief on 80 percent of the budget for qualifying UK-made games.
Earlier in the week while the National Governors Association and proponents of the Marketplace Fairness Act were hosting an event to encourage House members to approve the bill already passed the Senate, Republicans from the House and Senate joined Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform to rally against it. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined House Republicans and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday to rally against the bill.
The video games industry in the United Kingdom should have had tax breaks by now but the European Commission's questions on certain parts of the UK's proposals (mainly having to do with UK cultural tests) have stalled efforts so far. This week UK trade body TIGA urged the EU Commission to make a decision, reports Gamasutra.
Yesterday governors, legislators, congressional leaders, technology companies and small business owners held a meeting to promote the Senate's recently passed Marketplace Fairness Act legislation, which proponents hope will get the same kind of approval in the House. The bill creates ways for states to collect online sales tax across state lines. Traditional retailers say that these taxes level the playing field because it forces all businesses to collect sales tax, and takes away the tax-free advantage online retailers have had for years.
You may recall that back in January, Missouri State Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton) put forth a bill to levy a one percent sin tax on "violent video games." Apparently not realizing that she lived in a state where raising taxes on anything was considered bad form, she pushed the bill forward in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that occurred in December of 2012.
If the Marketplace Fairness Act that was enthusiastically passed in the Senate earlier this month were to somehow end up becoming the law of the land (through some sort of divine intervention in the House where it will likely stall for lack of support, in my opinion) then 44 percent would cut back on buying products online. This is according to data from a study sponsored by electronic postage software company Endicia and posted on Mashable.
Vice President Joe Biden thinks that it would be perfectly okay to tax violent video games. During a recent meeting to talk about strategy for enacting the president’s proposed gun legislation, Biden said that an idea floated by Reverend Franklin Graham in late April to tax violent media might be a good idea. Participants in the session told Politico that Mr. Biden said there’s "no restriction on the ability to do that; there’s no legal reason why they couldn’t."
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate seem to agree that requiring online retailers to collect sales tax is a great idea. A bipartisan coalition from both parties easily passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69-to-27. The bill was sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) who fast-tracked the bill and avoided any committee that might have had oversight over the bill.
UK Chancellor George Osborne and Culture minister Ed Vaizey said today that the European Commission's investigation into proposed tax incentives for the video game industry that have a cultural requirement will not stop UK lawmakers from providing games tax breaks. Speaking at the British Film Commission event for the launch of creative sector tax breaks for TV and animation, the pair showed that their support for tax breaks had not wavered.
While the Senate is likely to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act being rammed through the Senate past the red tape of committees and onto the floor for a vote later today or by the end of this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NEV.), House Republicans face a roadblock that they put in place themselves when it comes time to vote for their Internet tax bill: a pledge.
The movement to bring State sales tax across the board to Internet retailers got an important endorsement this week as President Barack Obama "enthusiasticlly endorsed" the efforts by Senator Harry Reid (D-NEVADA) to push the Marketplace Fairness Act forward at a breakneck pace - according to The Hill. Senators advanced the bill in a 74-20 procedural vote on Monday evening, one vote less than it received in a test vote last month.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) this week began the process of pushing the Marketplace Fairness Act before the full Senate without making its way through the Senate Finance Committee (mostly because many of the leaders in the committee don't like the bill and would stall it), according to Politico.
During the United Kingdom's March 2012 Budget it looked like plans for tax breaks for video games developers were a lock, but a European Commission (EC) investigation that was announced today has put their future in doubt. The European Commission announced today that it plans to investigate the proposals, and questions whether there is an obvious market failure in the UK games industry.
Specifically the EC is seeking answers to four key questions related to the UK games tax relief plan:
Tax relief for the video games industry in the United Kingdom has been delayed because the European Commission was not able to approve the Cultural Test provisions of the plan, according to this GamesIndustry International report. The Cultural Test requires those applying for tax credits to promote the culture of the UK in various ways.
UK games industry trade groups UKIE and TIGA expressed their disappointment in the news, but were optimistic that the government would continue to be committed to tax breaks for games developers.
When a publisher leaves a studio high and dry in the United Kingdom, industry trade body Tiga thinks that such abandoned projects should be eligible for tax relief. Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said that publishers have in the past left some studios in the UK “high and dry” by demanding large development teams for extended periods to then cancel a project with little or no notice at all.
As Republicans and Democrats publically spar over sequestration, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has decided to throw "wasteful spending" into the mix by mentioning research on smoking machines, a free cell phone program, and even the use of video games for research on the elderly into the national conversation (here is a great explanation of what 'sequester' means, if you are interested).
An interesting article on The Atlantic examines why sin taxes like the one proposed for video games by Connecticut State Rep. Debralee Hovey (R-112th District) never really do anything productive. You may recall that Hovey, who represents the district that includes Newtown, Connecticut, proposed a 10 percent sin tax on violent video games rated "Mature" by the ESRB.
The Escapist reports that Connecticut State Representative Debralee Hovey (R-112th District) has introduced H.B. No. 5735, or "an act establishing a sales tax on certain video games." The bill would add a ten percent tax in Connecticut on video games rated "Mature" by the ESRB, which would then be redirected to the State's department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Missouri State Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton) put forth a bill on Monday proposing that the state charge a 1 percent tax on "violent video games," with the funds to be used for mental health programs and law enforcement efforts related to the prevention of mass shootings. This tax would apply to games rated Teen, Mature, and Adults Only by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
As news of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Connecticut were coming to light on December 14, the finishing touches were being put on a deal with the Nevada Economic Development Board and Take-Two Interactive (see Vegas Inc. for the details). This week that deal is being questioned by the media in the state.
The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom (the Tories) have created a page on its official website detailing the planned implementation of upcoming tax breaks for the region's video games industry. According to the page on the official web site, tax breaks will officially go into effect on April 1. The page goes on to note that the new tax incentives will give a financial boost to the video game industry and "help level the playing field" against other countries already offering breaks for their own video game sectors.
The UK government released new details on tax relief it wants to offer the video games industry, as a follow-up to last week's Autumn statement. For starters, the UK government has decided that it will have no minimum spending threshold so that tax relief can be provided to companies of all shapes and sizes. The government came to this conclusion after a lengthy consultation period with developers across the region. The tax relief initiative will come into effect on April 1, 2013.
The United States Congress may be a mess and the most unruly and uncompromising bunch in the land but they all apparently think that the UN should not be setting policy on the Internet. To that end, members of the House of Representatives - Democrats and Republicans - voted unanimously (397-0) against the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations' efforts to push "increased government control over the Internet."
Today the UK Government published a document proposing strong support of Chancellor George Osborne's earlier Autumn Statement, which would give qualified games companies tax-relief set at a rate of 25 percent.
"Following consultation on their design, the Government will ensure that the reliefs are among the most generous in the world by offering a payable tax credit for all three reliefs worth 25 per cent of qualifying expenditure," the document read in part.