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Porn tax proposed in California

You knew it was just a matter of time. State lawmakers all across the country have tried piecemeal taxation of various sectors of the adult entertainment industry.

Now some California lawmakers are going for the whole enchilada. They want to tax all aspects of the Golden State's $4 billion a year adult entertainment industry.

Adults_only_2 Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Montebello), the bill's chief sponsor, says the 25 percent tax could raise as much as $665 million in tax revenue a year.

It would be imposed on pornographic movies, strip club fees, pay-per-view films, sex toys and the like.

The money from the so-called porn tax then could be used for anything related to education, law enforcement, health care and social services, basically anything paid for from the state's general fund.

Similar but unsuccessful proposals have been made in previous legislative sessions. This year, however, the idea is attracting more interest from lawmakers due in large part to California's $15 billion budget deficit.

Porn tax pros and cons: Supporters say the proposal is akin to existing "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco.

Opponents say the tax, which would be added to corporate and sales taxes they already pay, would force many in the adult entertainment industry to move, probably to neighboring Nevada.

There's also the constitutional question. Legal opinion on taxation based on content is mixed.

You can review the California bill, AB 2914, yourself here. Read other blog and media comments on the proposal at:

Pole tax possibilities: A similar, but more limited, tax on adult entertainment was enacted here in Texas last year.

Lone Star State legislators authorized a $5-per-patron fee, aka pole tax, on strip clubs. The money, an estimated $40 million a year, is to go to anti-sexual-assault programs and health care for the uninsured.

However, in March an Austin judge found that the tax infringed on First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and declared the tax on exotic dancers unconstitutional.

Judge Scott Jenkins wrote in the March 28 decision that the fee, "while furthering laudable goals, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore invalid."

Texas is still collecting the tax while the case is on appeal.

And that setback has not dissuaded at least one Pennsylvania state representative. In fact, Paul Clymer, a Republican from Bucks County, plans to introduce a similar measure for Keystone State strip clubs in the coming weeks.

Clymer has reworked his proposal, paying attention to the problems found in the Texas law, and says, "I'm in full confidence we've made the proper refinements for this to pass constitutional muster."

Comments

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Turn One Pound Into One Million

I can see the sense in taxing tobacco and alcohol as it encourages healthy behaviour. However, porn is not unhealthy - well not in the sense that drinking and smoking are. I would much rather see a 'fat' tax where the government taxes sugar and junk foods.

Meg

My first reaction is that sex toys shouldn't be included in the tax. Porn videos and even strip clubs themselves can be considered as enablers to addiction (just like alcohol and tobacco use can lead to addiction). But sex toys aren't addictive, to my knowledge, nor are they bad for you.

In fact, there should be a tax subsidy on sex toys! Like that mayor in South America who handed out free Viagra to everyone and mandated government funded ED treatment to those who want it. It's morale-boosting for the country. Though it might lower productivity...

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