American lawmakers are at it again when it comes to violent video games. This time, they plan to attack the developers themselves through taxation.
The Washington Examiner reported that the GOP tax plan singles out violent video game makers on the upcoming tax reform bill. How they do this is by removing the proposed research and development tax break. The new site reports the following:
On page 19 of the executive summary, the committee mentions an improved and permanent research and development tax credit, which has benefited countless industries from manufacturers to software creators to food producers.
However, page 24 of the new bill, “removes that tax credit from the violent video game industry, under a section about closing loopholes… One of the plan’s provisions: ‘Preventing makers of violent video games from qualifying for the R&D tax credit.'”
The Washington Examiner themselves have recognized this to be an incredible irony in which on the next page of the bill, it literally writes that the bill, “stops the practice of using the tax code to pick winners and losers based on political power rather than economic merit.”
This detail in the bill actually would hurt many of the most prominent developers and publishers in the United States. For example, Electronic Arts is known for publishing many licensed sports games such as the FIFA Series. They are also known for publishing violent video games such as the Battlefield Series. Would the bill only effect EA when their games are clearly violent, such as their military shooters, and be omitted from other titles that are not violent, like their sports games? Also, what is the system that will recognize video games as violent? For example, Pokemon is considered a game for everyone but there is a rating for violence in the game. Will Nintendo be effected by the bill?
Also, this bill is considered to violate First Amendment Rights. For over the past two to three years, there have been numerous debates about video games. In one such situation, video games – either violent or not – became recognized as a form of art. Because of this ruling, video games would receive the same freedom of speech protections with anything else recognized as art. Removing the tax exemption from violent video games is pretty much lawmakers saying they don’t like that form of art.
As reported by Colin Moriarty of IGN, this came about through the Ways & Means Committee which is controlled by the majority of the House of Representative, being the GOP or Republican Party. The Republican Party has been known to be a small government, anti-tax, small business supporter. How this provision lines with their overall viewpoints remains unseen.