Proposed ‘culture tax’ in France would affect smartphones, tablets

Tourists take pictures near the Eiffel Tower in Paris earlier this month.
(Fred Dufour / AFP / Getty Images)

Here’s a proposal that would have a hard time finding support in the United States. A new government study in France suggests levying a new tax as high as 1% on the sale of smartphones, tablets and other Internet devices, with the funds going toward funding cultural initiatives.

The proposal was submitted Monday to President Francois Hollande as part of a larger report on digital culture. The report was created by a team led by Pierre Lescure, a journalist and former executive at Canal Plus.

The focus of the report is the so-called French cultural exception in the changing digital landscape. French law has protected certain cultural industries against the encroachment of American influence and other free-market forces.


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In the report, the team recommends that the new tax be applied to all devices connected to the Internet. A 1% tax would raise 86 million euros ($111.2 million) per year, according to published reports. The money would then enter a fund to support various creative industries, such as music, cinema and photography.

The new “culture” tax would affect makers of Internet devices, such as Apple. However, the authors of the report said they don’t recommend a “Google tax,” a separate proposal that would tax the Internet giant and other Web companies for gathering user information online.

The report features approximately 80 proposals regarding specific cultural industries and the challenges they face online. Legislators are expected to debate the proposals over the summer.


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