Washington State Representative Ross Hunter is proposing a new bill (House Bill 2075) that would start charging consumers a tax for any content that is delivered via streaming media, even though the consumer is not downloading any physical assets. As I understand it today, the proposed bill would only affect those companies who have physical offices or employees in Washington State. But if this bill passes, it could set a really bad precedent and could easily have a trickle down affect.
Almost twenty states already tax digital downloads of movies, music and books, but in those cases, the consumer is actually buying something and retains some kind of physical asset. So even though you are already paying tax when you sign up for MLB.com's streaming service, or a Netflix account, this bill would require companies who charge for any kind of service that has a streaming component to it to have to collect a new "streaming" tax. Details are still sketchy on how exactly this would all work, but the bill is starting to get some play and was discussed last week in the House Finance Committee.
I'll be dammed if we're going to let someone try to come along and tax our industry unfairly without a fight. Trying to use a "streaming tax" to make up for the budget problems in their own state is a pretty poor excuse. While you may not have read a lot about this as of yet, get ready to.
We're going to take all the resources we have at StreamingMedia.com to get the word about about this tax and get the industry to fight it. I'll be putting up an information site shortly at www.StopTheStreamingTax.com and we will be looking for those in the industry to help us get the word out on the damage such a tax could have on our industry. I've also spoken to a firm in DC that we are going to team up with and will have more details on all of this shortly.
In the mean time, if you know of anyone writing a story about this, please have them contact us so we can start to tell our side of the story.