The entirely insane new tax in France on smartphones, laptops, TVs and tablets
THE French have decided it would be a good idea to tax all the smartphones, TVs, tablets and the rest in order to subsidise the creation of French movies n’ stuff that people can watch on their smartphones, tablets and TVs. This is truly insane:
The French government is considering creating a new tax on smartphones and tablets in a bid to raise millions to support the creation of digital cultural content inside France.
The proposal, handed to President Francois Hollande today, outlines a one per cent tax on the sale of Internet-compatible devices, targeting companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon.
The tax would yield about 86 million euros per year. The revenue would help cultural industries create French content such as music, images and videos.
There’s several problems with this of course. The first being who in hell wants to subsidise more French output? Don’t we have enough movies in which nothing ever happens already?
The second is a little more picky: placing a tax on something made by Google or Apple doesn’t mean that it’s Google or Apple paying the tax. It’s fat more likely that it will be the French buyers of these things that end up paying the tax. And, if they wanted more movies in which nothing ever happened presumably they’d go and see them at the theatres anyway.
But the really insane thing about this is that this is hypothecation of tax revenues. And that really is insane.
It might well be that you want to tax shiny shiny tech. You’ve got to get the money you need from somewhere. It might well be that you want to subsidise the making of bad movies. But there’s absolutely no relationship at all between the amount that you can raise in tax from shiny shiny and the amount that you need or want to spend on subsidising Jules et Jim.
Maybe you can get 90 odd million a year from this tax: but maybe people will buy a lot more stuff and the tax will raise 150 million. Do the French movies need 150 million? Or maybe they will buy a lot less: raising only 40 million. Do the movies now need the money any less because fewer people are buying phones?
No, of course not: there really is no relationship at all between how much you can raise in tax on something and how much you need or desire to subsidise something else. Which is why you shouldn’t have hypothecated taxes. Raise the cash where you can, spend it where you must.