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British luvvies want a new smartphone tax to fund the arts

UK Parliament is apparently considering a new tax on any device that can store digital content with a view to handing the cash over to the arts sector.

The arts, like many other industries, has had a very difficult time while people have been banned from hanging out with each other. Over 100 creative types, including some prominent actors, have sent a letter to The Times in support of the so-called Smart Fund, which they reckon could redistribute £300 million from the gadget sector to them and their contemporaries.

This initiative is only slightly more creative than merely saying “Oi, Boris, we’re strapped for cash over here, how about chucking us a few mil?” It seems to be a thinly disguised attempt at a piracy tax with a healthy dose of special pleading thrown in for good measure. It’s certainly bold of both the government and the creative industry to be contemplating adding to the tax burden at a time when so many people are struggling financially.

“The fund could generate £250-£300 million a year for the creative sector, and boost a wider UK economic recovery, by placing a small levy on the sale of devices that enable people to store and download creative content, such as mobile phones, laptops and personal computers,” said the letter. “This would provide a direct way for tech companies to invest in culture.”

An even more direct way would be for those tech companies to, you know, just invest in culture. And the suggestion that these extra millions in tax would just be swallowed by those companies rather than passed on to consumers is laughable. Understandably not everyone in the telecoms sector thinks this is such a great idea.

Since many other sectors have also been brought to their knees by the lockdown, according to this logic we should consider further novel taxes to help them out. Maybe a tariff on delivery drivers for the retail sector, a levy on sun tans for the travel industry perhaps, or even metered toilets for beleaguered pubs and restaurants. We’re limited only by our imagination.


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