Sweden To Begin Taxing PCs and Tablets

Sweden’s TV tax will be extended to Internet-connected personal computers and tablets starting next week.

Like many European countries, Sweden imposes a TV tax or TV license fee to fund its equivalent of the public broadcasting/educational broadcasting network. The TV tax in Sweden, which amounts to about $320 a year in US dollars, is applied per household (not device). As it is, Sweden has one of the highest tax rates in Europe.

More and people are watching television online, however, and more TV content is available online so under the new policy, the tax will applied to households that don’t even a have a TV. According to TheNextWeb, “consumers hoping to save money by ditching their sets and switching to PC and tablet entertainment will find themselves still subject to the charge.”

Some Swedish residents got rid of their television sets in part to avoid the tax, but according to government regulators, 90% of Swedish households already pay for the TV license. Internet-enabled smartphones, at least for the time being, are exempt from the tax because authorities concluded their primary function does not involve television viewing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Swedish government changed to the law to allow the country’s tax collection agency known as the Radiotjänst to collect fees on devices other than televisions:

“Radiotjänst does have a legal leg to stand on as the expanded license collecting drive is supported by a law change from 2007, which makes the TV license rules technically neutral by not specifying which devices should count as receivers. Catharina Henriksson, press secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Culture, said in an interview that lawmakers wanted a technically neutral law because of the rapid technical development. She said it is up to Radiotjänst to decide which gadgets will be in the cross hairs.”

The Local of Sweden points out, however, that “The TV license system does not take into account when, if, or how viewers use any of the channels or services which are funded by it.”

Do you think taxing PCs and tablets under the TV tax umbrella is fair?

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