Italian Lawmakers Consider Porn Tax

Kat Khan
ROME — Italians may be required to pay a 20 percent tax on pornography, according to a budget amendment that cleared its first legislative hurdle Dec. 8.

The proposed tax was approved at committee level and is expected to go before the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower parliamentary house, early next week.

The tax is expected to raise $260 million to help reduce the country’s deficit and to help fund government tax breaks to families.

"I believe the porn tax is important not for moralistic reasons, which don't concern me, but because I think that at a time of difficult economic conditions for families it is right to tax products that are not essential," Italian lawmaker Daniela Santache said.

The tax proposal follows a study released in May showing that Italians spent $1.4 billion on adult content last year, up 27 percent from 1991. The 65-page study was co-sponsored by the Vatican and compiled by the Eurispes Institute, which attributes the sharp increase in adult spending to online companies offering around-the-clock services through third-generation mobile telephones, television and the Internet.

"The link between pornography and information technology is by now entrenched and has multiplied supply in an irreversible way," the study reported. "The strategy is now to give consumers a sort of 24-hour service wherever they may be via all means of communications by using the most advanced technology as well as traditional outlets."

The study also showed that nearly 8.8 million Italians, about 15 percent of the population, are consumers of adult entertainment. The study estimates that Italy’s main cellphone providers sold at least 70 million five-minute adult videos at $2.50 each to their subscribers during 2004.

Recently, in the U.S., Kansas lawmakers have started pushing for a 10 percent tax on all adult content sold in the state. Additionally, in July, Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., introduced the Internet Safety and Child Protection Act, legislation that would impose a 25 percent excise tax on all national adult transactions and require online adult websites to use software for age verification of users attempting to access adult websites. The bill is currently under review.