WA State Wants To Tax Streaming Content, Get Ready To Help Us Fight It

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.

  • Gregg

    Dan, thanks for the heads-up on this. What are they thinking? That’s the last thing we need in the industry and it would help drive companies out of business.
    Let us know how we can help spread the word.

  • http://www.thedrmblog.com Christopher Levy

    If anything this will just force streaming media companies to move out of WA which means The Platform and Delve Networks and Real and Microsoft will be looking for new colo in Oregon :)

  • Mike

    I think such new taxes are unavoidable and inevitable. As online media sales grow they eat into the states sales tax revenues that came from physical sales. Government wants money, nothing will change that. I think the alternative is to present smarter and less invasive ways for govt to profit off the Internet.

  • scott

    Public hearing on the bill (2075) in WA on TVW, the non-profit station that covers the state’s legislature (streaming) :)
    http://www.tvw.org/media/mediaplayer.cfm?evid=2009021225

  • http://klessblog.blogspot.com/ Larry Kless

    This is so whack Dan. Count me in on the fight. We are already playing taxes on the utilities and services to deliver the content to our businesses and homes. This sort of government intrusion goes too far.

  • http://unlimitedvideocoaching.com Janet Garcia

    Taxing for viewing steaming videos is really ridiculous. “They” screw up and then we have to pay the consequences?
    We are already paying too many taxes already.

  • http://www.crapmonkey.com Travis Petershagen

    We pay taxes on connectivity already (State taxes on Cable & Telco) – so now we will be paying an additional tax depending on how we use that connectivity. That would be like having a different tax rate on my water bill depending on whether I pour it into a cup or take a shower. What do we get in return? If brick and morter sales taxes theoretically go toward improving my streets / sidewalks, transit options, etc for getting to that physical store; subsidies and beefed up Internet pipes better be in our future if these additional digital taxes go into affect. Then there is the “green” side of the equation – it seems like digital delivery would be encouraged these days. Finally, near as I can tell, this bill reaches beyond video and audio to nearly any digital asset that doesn’t get stored locally. In the future, consumers will be subscribing to “streaming” services that range stock and news tickers to digital signage to scenic views for digital picture frames… all of which would now bare this tax within a tax.