Wash. State Legislator Proposes 18.5% Adult Entertainment Tax

Feb 11, 2009 11:45 AM PST
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Facing a budget shortfall estimated at $8 billion, a Washington state representative has proposed legislation to tax consumers of adult entertainment materials and services by a whopping 18.5 percent.

Washington state Rep. Mark Miloscia’s bill, House Bill 2103, would cover products and services that “are primarily oriented to an interest in sex,” including magazines, photos, videos, cable TV programs, telephone services, audio tapes, computer programs and sex toys and novelties.

But the Democrat from Federal Way, Wash., told the Spokesman-Review that the proposal wouldn’t target online adult content. “The Internet is really tough to tax,” Miloscia said. “The Internet is the Wild West.”

The 18.5-percent porn tax proposal also wouldn’t apply to magazines that contain “no photographs or other graphics,” as well as movies or cable TV content “that doesn’t contain any explicit sex of the type that would be rated X using the standards existing on Jan. 1. of the Motion Picture Association of America.”

Miloscia’s bill maintains that “adult entertainment materials and services result in increased costs to the state through the provision of increased governmental services, including human services and criminal justice services.”

His proposal would use the money raised from adult entertainment materials and services to provide health care and $339-a-month stipends to people deemed unemployable, often due to mental health issues. The aid program is called General Assistance for the Unemployable, or GA-U.

Washington's general retail sales tax is set at 6.5 percent.

Its adult tax plan, which comes in the wake of another proposal in Michigan that would tax strip club patrons, would need a majority vote of the Legislature or approval by voters. The bill, which was first read Tuesday, has been referred to the state’s Committee on Finance.

Miloscia, who did not return XBIZ phone calls by post time for comment, told the Spokesman-Review that he thinks his tax proposal is bulletproof.

“I don’t think the adult entertainment industry is an industry that my constituents would worry about going out of state,” he said.

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