May 13, 2013
France’s recently elected socialist government has announced it plans to further stifle innovation and wealth creation by imposing a tax on smartphones and tablets.
The new tax will mirror a fee scheme imposed on French television and radio producers and internet service providers to fund art, cinema and music approved by the state.
The one percent tax targets Google, Apple, Amazon and other companies. The government of Francois Hollande estimates the taxation scheme will expropriate around 86 million euros per year. It plans to transfer the wealth to cultural industries producing French music and video content.
“Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help [French-only] creators,” Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti told Reuters.
The scheme is part of France’s “cultural exception” – l’exception culturelle française – a protectionist policy designed to shelter French music and cinema industries from foreign competition. Previous legislation enacted in France has imposed mandatory quotas on non-French movies, books and music.
The move is certain to further stultify French culture. Critics argue that the country no longer produces notable artists such as the writer Jean-Paul Sartre or the singer Edith Piaf. This is due largely to the meddling of the state, which invariably throws its weight behind mediocre artists. Instead of fostering artistic independence and innovation, the French state is more interest in pursuing a leftist ideological agenda: Haute Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l’Egalité, or “high authority against discriminations and for equality.” In other words, a politically correct agenda focused on racism, homophobia, sexism, etc., and the expense of artistic creativity and innovation.
The French government plans to enlist leading figures in the cultural sector to push its latest redistribution of wealth plan, according to the Associated Press.
France also wants to exempt its cultural industries from free trade rules during upcoming talks between the European Union and the United States.
In 2012, the newly elected French government led by socialist Francois Hollande proposed a staggering 75% tax on the country’s wealthiest citizens. The move resulted in a number of wealthy people fleeing the country, including the actor the Gérard Depardieu. In December, France’s constitutional watchdog, Conseil Constitutionnel, ruled the new tax scheme unconstitutional.