France Will Tax Smartphones to Fund Exceptional French Culture

France is planning a tax on smartphones, tablets, and a bevy of other internet-linked devices in order to fund the production of French art, film, and music. This tax could charge up to four percent on the sale of these devices, starting as soon as next year.

The report states: "They can use taxation to make actors that don't directly exploit content, but which profit from its circulation, contribute to its creation." Plainly, the tax on devices that acquire "culture" from the internet will fund creators of French-language culture generally.

France has a long history of levying taxes in order to fund cultural production. Previously, taxes on television companies and distributors had funded French film. France already raises about €200 million ($259.72 million) a year from copyright levies on hardware storage, which aims to compensate artists for income lost because of private copying.

For ideas about how to maintain French-language culture in the digital age, French President Francois Hollande commissioned Pierre Lescure, a former head of a major French television channel, to prepare a report of recommendations.

The plan is to follow one of his eighty recommendations and tax devices that use the internet to access "cultural content." This includes e-readers and gaming consoles. The report argues that it is lawful for the government to issue these taxes because it "corrects excessive imbalances."

Aurélie Filippetti, the culture minister, said, "Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help creators."

Filippetti says this tax should be held at a low level, aiming not to push consumers into a black market. While the amount taxed on the sale of internet-connected devices could be up to four percent, it might be as low as one percent, which would raise €86 million ($111.68 million).

[image via AP]