I keep hearing more and more state legislators talk about imposing taxes on "violent video games." It reminded me of an article I wrote earlier this year about such proposals. Back in February, bored Oklahoma lawmakers took a break from playing checkers and talking about OU football to make an important contribution to the nanny state. Some legislators proposed a 1 percent excise tax on all violent video games. Rep. William Fourkiller (D) introduced HB 2696 and wanted to take the excise tax revenue and put half into the Childhood Outdoor Education Fund and half into the Bullying Prevention Fund. Luckily, the Oklahoma legislature voted down this "nanny state gone wild" proposal. But why do legislators keep bringing them up?
I would remind proponents of this kind of legislation that taxing content violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. I would also remind them that bullies (and lazy people) were around long before violent video games. When Charles Atlas was a 98-pound weakling, he suffered from bullying. Moreover, whatever you can say about violent video games can be said about movies and books. If violent video games are inappropriate for children, parents shouldn't let them play. As for grownups, it's nobody's business what they play. There's no rational reason to tax video games, violent or otherwise.
View TaxAnalysts'® David Brunori's opinion in its entirety on TAX.com.
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