FTC Proposes 5% Tax On "Consumer Electronics"

As part of a draft plan to "save journalism" (as in, "save newspapers"), the Federal Trade Commission is making a number of proposals to Washington. Among them is a 5% tax on consumer electronics. Hey, game consoles are consumer electronics!

It's already been dubbed the "iPad Tax" by some hipsters, but really, that's a little stupid. Consumer electronics isn't just iPads, or iPhones, or iMacs. It's a Zune, a DS, an Xbox 360, a PS3, a Tivo, a tablet, a laptop and a digital camera as well.

The thinking behind the tax is that it would generate $4 billion annually for the US government, which it could then use to subsidise the continued operation of failing media outlets like newspapers, who have seen their ad revenues drop by over 40% in the past decade.

Putting aside concerns of how this would generate a conflict of interest between the media and the federal government, it's astonishing to think that consumers could be slugged an extra 5% at the register when buying a PlayStation to help save a newspaper.

While 5% doesn't sound like much, on a $500 purchase, that's an extra $25.

Before you grab torches and pitchforks, though, note this isn't law. It's not even the final word from the FTC. It is, as the FTC puts it, "solely for the purposes of discussion". Well, mission accomplished!

POTENTIAL POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS TO SUPPORT THE REINVENTION OF JOURNALISM [FTC]