Recently, Senator Jon Erpenbach(D-Middleton) has proposed Assembly Bill 746 and Senate Bill 401. If passed, these laws will add a tax of 1%(on top of the state's 5.5% standard sales tax) to the sale of all video games and video game hardware. The extra 1% of the money Wisconsin gamers spend will be used to fund a "juvenile justice program". In the state of Wisconsin, minors aged 17 who commit a crime are charged as adults, Senator Erpenback plans to use the funds from the video game tax to reform this.
Why are video games the candidate for this sin tax? There is no direct evidence that links video games to behavioral changes that result in violence. This proposal puts video games in the same boat as cigarettes(which are scientificaly linked to cancer) and alcohol(which is the direct cause of deaths related to drunk driving). If the bills supporters feel this makes their tax seem unfounded and unfair, they may choose to list it as a luxury tax. A luxury tax is a tax that is attached to items that are frivolous and unnecessary, such as expensive luxury cars, yachts, and furs, implying that the people who can afford to buy these items can also spare some extra money on taxes. Personally, I wonder why all entertainment is not being subjected to this sin or luxury tax. If violent images in video games are capable of creating violent actions, are films not guilty of the same thing? If video games are such an unnecessary item to own, then aren't cds, dvds, magazines, hell, even soda? Where is the line drawn?
So, I know now you're all wondering why you should care. The simple fact is that ideas like this are beginning to pop up everywhere! This has been discussed in Vermont, New Mexico, Texas, and probably elsewhere! What can you do to help? I urge you to let any friends and family you know in the states affected to write to their representatives in regards to this outlandish proposal. If you are affected, or worried you may be affected in the future, you might want to check out the Video Game Voters Network, where you can easily create an account, receive a list of your personal government representatives, and even send them a pre-written e-mail expressing your disgust at the idea of unfairly taxing video games.