Gamer Objects to Proposed Wisconsin Video Game Tax

Last week GamePolitics reported on Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach’s proposal to levy a 1% surcharge on video games and consoles in order to fund a juvenile justice program.

WISC-TV has more, including comments from Erpenbach and a 37-year-old gamer Wisconsin gamer who objects to the tax. The State Senator said:

The idea being that this is kind of a kids-kids thing, in other words, if we’re going to do this for kids maybe this would be a good way to go about it. And if it’s not the best way, I’m open to any other way.

But adult gamer Justin Sallows objects:

I just think [the video game tax is] pretty unfair to attack gamers and have them pay for something they, more than likely, have nothing to do with.

I think it’s a real problem. Even if that’s not what the intention is, it creates the impression that there’s something wrong with the video games because we need to put some extra tax on there to try to dissuade people from playing them.

GP: Well spoken, Justin!

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  1. 0
    jackspar says:

    More and more parents are bringing their children to the therapist’s or doctor’s office to address behavioral concerns such as increased irritability, failing grades, lack of interest in things that were previously enjoyable to the child (such as sports), and difficulty sleeping.Dopamine is a mood regulating hormone and excessive amounts create a “high.” Because of this, addiction to video-games can be chemical, not just psychological. In fact, the world’s first Video Game Detox Center was recently opened in the Netherlands where actual physical withdrawal symptoms have been noted among patients. "



    Addiction Recovery Wisconsin

  2. 0

    The program serves juveniles with substance abuse problems who have gotten in trouble with the law. A juvenile is accepted into the program by order of the Court, subject to eligibility and screening requirements set forth below:

    • must be a youth whose offense occurred prior to their 18th birthday;
    • must have a substance abuse problem;
    • must be at risk to re-offend; and
    • must be able to participate in treatment.


  3. 0
    Chump says:

    This is almost as stupid as the tax that wisconsin government wants to put on Soda/Pop/Tea/BEER. I don’t get how they can tax what sells. just because they make more then everyone doesn’t give them a right to keep themselves wealthy

  4. 0
    William says:

    @King James

    Its not so much libraries, but pretty much just additional taxes, instead of spending $60 million dollars in tax money to build the local University a new stadium, when the old one is only 10 years old, just to spend the money, and THEN wanting to enact another tax, that is the problem.

  5. 0
    King James says:

    @ william

    Libraries aren’t just for looking things up in books, ya know. They serve as vital community centers, help provide educational outreach beyond school for children, provide senior citizens a place to congregate and stay active in the community, as well as promoting democracy through the free flow of information. I think that the government spends tax revenue extremely poorly, but libraries? Chronically underfunded libraries? Staffed by people with a Master’s Degree (and the associated debt) who make $36k a year who do it because they believe in freedom of information without corporate influence, and by overworked volunteers who support that mission for free? Pick a better target, mon frere. Libraries are the very least of government expenditures to get riled up about.

    @ Original post
    I actually live in Senator Erpenbach’s district. I wrote him an e-mail as a voter and a gamer – letting him know that I am a voter, first and foremost – expressing my displeasure at his proposal. I just sent it off, so I haven’t gotten a reply. I sort of doubt that I’ll get one, but at least I did something. I’ll make sure I let my other voting friends who play video games know about this

  6. 0
    Master Fink says:

    Sigh. I refuse to give extra money to the government just to play videogames. Only problem is mummy and daddy won’t let me get limewire.

    Oh the tragedies of middle america. (I’m from wisconsin ;])

  7. 0
    Rdeegvainl ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There are two sides to taxes, rich and poor. The rich pay more for the same, if not much less service from our country. That is not right. The poor cant afford to pay taxes and survive well. That also is not right. Finding the balance is the hard part. I agree though, that the majority if not all politicians can’t really be trusted based on the way the system is.
    Oh and somewhere in the middle is everyone else that can get by, but things would still be easier with less taxes.

  8. 0
    Altair says:

    Being a part time worker, i agree with William that taxes are necessary, but for fucks sake….. if it werent for taxes, i would have probably built my new computer by now….. WHICH IM GONNA GET TAXED ON! ARGH!

  9. 0
    aspeaker says:


    The rich pay most of the taxes(like 68% of tax money comes from richest 10%) in US however they pay a much smaller percentage of their income then the lower middle class or the poor… which is crazy and should be changed….they must pay equal percentage…

  10. 0
    Tempest says:

    “Oh, and what kind of wacky math did you use to come up with that. By far the 10% top of the rich pay most of the income tax.”

    Look at % of taxes paid vs % of national wealth owned. It’s nowhere near as high as it should be if you want to make the claim that “the rich” are getting screwed (as you’re reply implies).

    And don’t forget, when your income all comes from investments you don’t even pay income tax, you pay capital gains tax… You know, the one that Republican’s in Congress have been trying to get rid of since 2000? Don’t try to claim the rich pay their share; they don’t.

  11. 0
    william says:


    Its not so much that its coming out of MY pocket, but more of, if everyone is losing 40% of their paycheck to taxes, then the people who are barely getting by as it is suffer.

    I am one of those, I support my wife and 2 year old son who can’t be put in childcare as he has immune deficiencies, meaning my wife has to be a stay at home mother. If I made about $10,000 less then I do make, we could qualify for public assistance, but because I make to much, we don’t, so we struggle just to survive and have what we have. If I didn’t lose 40% of my paycheck to taxes, I might actually be able to afford to do more with it.

    So what of those people like me? Those who make only $1k or $2k more then that line? They suffer. They can’t afford to feed their family, each month it is, pay this bill and don’t eat, or eat and have your phone cut off, but they aren’t considered poverty. If 40% of their paycheck didn’t go to taxes, they could afford to pay their bill and eat. That is where my problem lies.

    Bottom line, I just want less taxes so I can afford to buy a new toy for my son at Christmas, so I can give him a special birthday. To be able to buy him clothes from a real store, not a thrift store, where they have holes in them.

    I understand that government programs require taxes, I have no problem with that. My problem is with unneeded taxes. Taxes that are just there for the hell of it. Who the hell goes to the library anymore? If you need to research something, look it up online, go to a book store. Why I should pay more taxes so you can give a big corporation a HUGE tax break?

    Its not that I don’t like public services/assistance, but I don’t like taxes that don’t go for those purposes. Sure, give this corporation a HUGE tax break and it will create more jobs, more people for you to tax, plus, you get to tax everyone else more, oh whoopie!

    If our government was more responsible in how they spent their money, in how they budgeted it, you would see lots of money being wasted for unneeded stuff for running said service. Such as, why does a secretary need a $2,500 dollar computer, with 4 gigs of RAM and a $600 dollar graphics card? (I work for state government, and yes, we have that going on).

    Why does the city need to spend, or even have budgeted $60 million dollars to build the local University a new football stadium? Why the hell is MY money being used for that, when you could give teachers a pay raise, create a fund to help people buy wheelchair accessible vans (they can cost upward of around $60k, and most of the people who need them can’t afford even that). It just makes no sense to me.

    Yes, you are right, ALL of our politicians are idiots. They chase the crowd and say what ever is the FOTM. This isn’t limited to one party either, its both parties. They don’t focus on the important issues such as fixing insurance, fixing social security or anything else.

    I will say this, one thing I think should absolutely be banned, lobbyists. They are the bane of the common man. No company should be able to EVER give any money to an elected official. These politicians say things like, well, the lobbyists put a lot of pressure on me, so I didn’t back that bill that would block them from putting glass shards in donuts (Dilbert comic). Why is this allowed? Who is protecting the common man? Who is putting pressure on the politicians for us?

    Just a little something I found:

    “Members do pay taxes on their Congressional salaries, but they have given themselves some extra perks that elevate them above normal taxpayers.

    For example, they wrote into the law a $3,000 annual income tax deduction for maintaining a second residence. Normally, a taxpayer in a lawmaker’s income bracket could be subject to reductions in the value of his or her mortgage interest write-off for residences. The typical American who uses an additional residence for business or rental purposes may qualify for certain expense deductions, but only by filing complex forms.

    In addition the IRS maintains two “customer service centers” to assist lawmakers and Capitol Hill employees in filling out their tax forms at a cost to taxpayers of $100,000. In 1993 Money Magazine determined that 60 percent of the Members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, who are responsible for our tax laws, didn’t even prepare their own tax returns.”

    For other perks they get, visit:

    Just found it interesting to see how they benefit from our taxes on top of their normal pay….

  12. 0
    jadedcritic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Think there’s a slight misspeak in that article. They’re not trying to slap a tax on video games to dissuade people from playing them, so much as because they know people will pay it anyway. Some products can’t take price hikes, because people just buy less. Gamer’s aren’t gonna run from a 1% though.

    What strikes me as curious is that the idea seems like it might be a tad snippy to enforce. What’s to stop Wisconsin gamers from just buying off the internet and shipping in from out of state? Seems to me like the real losers in this situation are Wisconsin (local) game shops.

  13. 0
    Icehawk ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This worries me. If they do somehow pass this, well as stated .50 on a $50 title is not much to worry about. Taxes however are NEVER stagant but tend to grow and multiply as the need/desire arises. Look at the cigeratte tax. They have been milking that cow for a while and demanding more every time. Need more money for the war on terror? Tax cigs. Money for the war on the evil video games.. cigs can pay for that too. Wonder what the taxes on games will support. I doubt it will be used to teach the kidding not to play nor would it be used for a practical cause like Social Security.

    Wait but it has the possibility to get much much worse. Extra Video game import taxes, extra sales tax (the store has to pay) AND the end user gets stiffed. They should just be happy for the sales tax they have slapped on us on top of Social Security tax (which we will likely never get to collect) and Federal Withholding tax. Sad and scary

  14. 0
    aspeaker says:

    Wow this game tax is a great idea now lets make a:
    1.rap music tax to fund drug rehab clinics….

    2.and lets tax mexican restaurants to support welfare…

    3.and or a gas tax for Iraq war or war on terror…

    4.or non-citizen tax to support jails…

    5.a tax on bibles to support those that have been harmed by cults??? about a condom tax to support aids victims(cause supposedly their existance in itself makes people have sex more…) about a politician tax to support the families of dead prostitutes?

    I could come up with more moronic ideas…

  15. 0
    Vermifax says:

    “At present, thanks to recent tax cuts, wealthy corporations and people pay almost nothing compared to the middle class. “

    Oh, and what kind of wacky math did you use to come up with that. By far the 10% top of the rich pay most of the income tax.

  16. 0
    Vermifax says:

    “The [video game tax] idea being that this is kind of a kids-kids thing, in other words, if we’re going to do this for kids maybe this would be a good way to go about it. And if it’s not the best way, I’m open to any other way.”

    Except that the majority of video game players and purchasers are adults, not kids.

  17. 0
    Spekkio ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    1. Elected officials still pay taxes.

    2. Taxes in the United States are lower than most of the developed world.

    3. The biggest problem we have, tax-wise, in the United States is the uneven distribution of taxes. At present, thanks to recent tax cuts, wealthy corporations and people pay almost nothing compared to the middle class. (The recent federal tax cuts only really helped people who make more than $200,000 a year.)

  18. 0
    Mister Angry ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Know where that tax money is really going? To another bill against video games which will be proved to be unconstitutional and ultimately fail.

    (I wonder if some one had already said something like this…)

  19. 0
    jonwanker says:

    @ William

    THAT’S the problem. Yes, the government needs to be held accountable for how it spends the tax money it collects. If the city can’t tell you what it spends your tax dollars on, there’s a big problem.

    However, people need to understand that you can’t have government services without taxes. Just because there is no obvious effect, doesn’t mean your tax dollars aren’t at work. Infrastructure, schools, public transit, social programs, and even the government offices which manage these areas all need money.

    “So when all is said in done, in one month, I have probably paid around 40% of my paycheck into these taxes. So, why would I support an additional tax? I see so much of my money drain away to taxes. It is almost like I work, just to pay taxes.”

    So I guess, the issue isn’t how the taxes are spent, but that they’re coming out of your pocket? People like to complain about how social programs never benefit them. Well, duh. If you’re making a decent steady income, chances are you’re not in a place where you need help. People like to bitch and moan about how it is their money, and they should be able to spend it how they want, but THEY LIVE AS PART OF SOCIETY. No one is an island onto themselves; we don’t exist in a vacuum.

    That being said, you’re right, the government needs to be accountable in how tax money is spent, and whether or not the initiatives are effective. This requires more than a general “smaller government, less taxes” stance, it requires real political participation. Simply saying “I don’t like to be taxed” is saying nothing at all — or rather, it sounds a lot like “memememmememememeME”. Something like “poverty is better solved by reducing unemployment rate stimulating the economy through tax cuts, rather than social welfare funded by increased taxation” is far more poignant.

  20. 0
    Pandralisk says:


    …and on smoking. Do you really think people magically wake up and realize the intrinsic value of tobacco, as if it were a natural and good part of the universe? Where does the value of a product that burns out the lining of your lungs and causes cancer lie? How does it make you feel good fulfilling an addiction once you begin using the product?

    Why would someone even desire tobacco products?

    We can trace most smoking habits back to peer influence and social pressures. But we must ask a further question, where did that desire come from? The most intuitive and probable answer is powerful advertising campaigns that have only recently been combated. By 2020, the WHO predicts that tobbaco will kill more people than Malaria or Aids. Smoking companies fully know the danger of their product, but continue to create artifical demand for their products. There is no justifiable aspect of tobbaco that grants it value or further explains why it is desired.

  21. 0
    Pandralisk says:


    Stand up against that tax, brother. Consumption based taxation is unethical, not profitable, and harms all but the upper classes.


    “…banning trans-fats in foods, taking junk food out of schools, helmet laws for bicycles, smoking bans, the list goes on and on. We are becoming a fucking nanny-state where the government tries to protect us from ourselves, whether we want it or not.”

    Goverment is not protecting you from yourself. Certain segments of goverment are protecting you from vastly powerful corporate intrests that have gradually come to contextualize, govern, and manipulate US domestic and foriegn policy.

    What should government do? Sit back and grant corporations leeway for creating powerful national advertising campaigns that create artifical demand for products and policies that hurt people? We’re trying to recover from a gilded era of capitalism that has entrenched sublimial advertising into the heart of our culture. There is an enormous difference between moralist policies and public policies enacted to protect people from big buisness and promote physical health.

  22. 0
    jonwanker says:

    @ BmK

    I disagree. Politicians today are (if we’re being cynical) purely populists. Their aim is to be popular and get elected — not actually to solve “real problems”. The people are telling them that they care more about “non-issues” such as smoking and trans-fats, and so that’s what they campaign on. They play to people’s fears, amusements, and self-righteousness because a emotional response takes less effort than a reasoned one — so we have the War on Terror without actually dealing with the roots of terrorism; we have mudslinging instead of reasoned discussion (because everyone loves a cat fight); and we have further mixing of religious faith with public policy (intelligent design, wtf?). They aren’t by default stupid, but stupid works — stupid gets them elected. It’s all about the lowest common denominator.

    State intervention in society is warranted sometimes. Just like it’s a bad idea to drink-and-drive, it’s a bad idea to not wear a seat belt. Smoking IS hazardous to public health — and the state, as representative of the people, has a vested interest in public health. Trans-fats ARE terrible for you, companies who cut corners should be held accountable — industry standards often don’t change on their own (i.e. seat belts and airbags were not adopted by the auto industry voluntarily).

    The problem, in my mind, is in the broader way these issues are presented. Not everything the state deals with is an issue of life and death, but it becomes a problem when it’s presented as such. Politics is now more about spin than policy. This wouldn’t be the case if spin didn’t work, if people weren’t influenced by it. The state is not (or should not be) an abstract intangible entity. The state is representative of the people, WE are the people. The fact that politicians are idiots is because WE elected those idiots and continue to elect similar idiots. There isn’t a ‘third’ choice because WE don’t WANT a third choice.

    The people aren’t apathetic because the politicians are bad; the politicians are bad because the people are apathetic.

  23. 0
    william says:


    Taxes ARE necessary, but in this day and age, we have so many taxes in the US we lose around 20 – 40% of each paycheck to them. On top of that we have to pay our bills (which are taxed, depending on the bill, it may be taxed 3 or 4 different ways, then add on surcharges for this or that random thing), our mortgage (which has around three taxes on it), our car payment (and at the end of each year we get to go spend an hour in line to pay MORE taxes on that), anything we buy already has a tax (where I live it is 6%).

    If I win something, such as a car, or the lottery, I have to pay tax at 40% of the value of that. If I get a Christmas bonus from work, it is taxed at 40%. Where I live and work, our city has two more taxes in addition to the state and federal taxes we already pay. One is just for working in the city (they refuse to document where this money goes….) and the other is to support road building projects. They have recently proposed to add another city tax, one to support the library system to allow them to build more libraries and increase the amount workers are paid. The state also recently proposed a tax to help offset the tax breaks that corporations get for locating in our state. Oh! and don’t forget that they tax the gas we buy at a greatly increased amount also. A friend of mine who owns a gas station tells me if it wasn’t for the gas tax, gas would be around $1.50 a gallon instead of $3.00.

    So when all is said in done, in one month, I have probably paid around 40% of my paycheck into these taxes. So, why would I support an additional tax? I see so much of my money drain away to taxes. It is almost like I work, just to pay taxes.

    So while taxes ARE necessary, I think our governments are a little to tax happy. Oh, and you know why congress doesn’t mind raising taxes? Once you become an elected official, you never have to pay taxes again for the rest of your life. On top of that, they get to give themselves pay raises, well, they have to pay for those raises somehow, so lets raise taxes!!!

    That is why, the last thing I want, is another tax. That is one reason why I’m part of the Republican party, the Republican party is the one who is supposed(in theory, but the people we have today…*sigh*) support smaller government and less taxes. While democrats support larger government, and MORE taxes. I’m sorry, I think I am taxed enough as it is.

  24. 0
    BmK ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I think the public at large is apathetic when it comes to politics especially young people but i blame this on the parties themselves not the people. Both political parties have no fucking idea how to solve the REAL problems we have out there so instead they pick on non-issues like restricting video games, banning trans-fats in foods, taking junk food out of schools, helmet laws for bicycles, smoking bans, the list goes on and on. We are becoming a fucking nanny-state where the government tries to protect us from ourselves, whether we want it or not.
    These issues only appeal to the nanny-statists, moralist prudes, and special interest groups out there and don’t tackle the real problems that need to be solved. But there are some morons out their who will base their votes on these non-issues (mostly soccer moms who want to shield their children from everything out there, religious nuts, protectionists who think they know what’s best for us and society because they’re so high and mighty, ect).

  25. 0
    F**ked up says:

    I wonder if we can find a way to tax congress to pay for schools. Because as we all know once your an elected official you become an idiot.

    A campaign money whore that can be bought and sold like a slave.

  26. 0
    jonwanker says:

    @ BmK

    Is the fact that both the Democrats and Republicans are bent more on re-election than changing the world for the better a reflection on the parties themselves or the public at large?

  27. 0
    jonwanker says:

    @ jds

    I like how your objection isn’t grounded on any real principle other than knee-jerk libertarian/’new-right’ anti-state gibberish.

    There’s nothing wrong with taxation. Taxes are necessary. With cases like the tobacco and alcohol taxes (in Canada anyways — I’m not sure about the US), there is a clear reason why such taxes are in place. There are certain services that only the government can provide because we live in a society where citizens are equals. Services like policing and health care should not be privatized because in order to guarantee equality, it must be accountable to the people — corporations aren’t accountable to consumers, they’re accountable to shareholders.

    The idea of state-funded social programs to augment existing correctional and policing services is not new. In fact, it has been demonstrated to be highly effective — every dollar spent in crime prevention saves six in law enforcement. The objection in this case, is (or should be) in the specific taxation of video games exclusively.

    To make this into a partisan issue is stupid — it just devolves into further mudslinging and name calling. In fact, the tendency of the public and the media to define certain policies and issues by partisan lines is what makes the parties in turn behave in this way! Politics should be a rational discourse on policy, not partisan bickering and line drawing. Democracy as currently conceived is a joke. The democratic process becomes irrelevant when politics becomes a form of entertainment.

  28. 0
    chadachada(123) ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It just seems stupid to tax video games, but not other forms of electronic entertainment. Like others said on the first story of this, at what point does an electronic entertainment device become a video game? I would be slightly more tolerant of a tax on ALL electronic devices, but to put one on just video games is very vague and very unfair.

  29. 0
    JustChris says:

    But BmK, we’re actually hiring good talent and acting for big-budget games now. Voice actors are actually serious about their work and no longer fill the games with cheesy forced dialogue (well, not as much as 6 years ago). It’s a very pop-culture lucrative industry and I don’t understand how people can pretend it’s still underground.

  30. 0
    MonkeyPeaches ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Reminds me of the FUNZO episode of The Simpsons

    Toy guy: It’s the only toy made for kids, by kids, and all the profits going to kids.
    Lisa: Really?
    Toy guy: (under his breath) Yes, we’re all somebody’s children.

  31. 0
    Mort ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @SounDemon & MonkeyPeaches

    Combining your comments made me think of something, 50 cents doesn’t sound that bad. But if you think of it like a cigarette tax, then we bump the price up again, and again, and again, and again, because it already exists, lets add a little more to pay for rehab of violent crimes. Pretty soon that $50 game costs 60, or even more.

    Best not to even start it. Also, I live in WI, disagree with this proposal, and until this have never heard of Erpenbach. But to be fair, I am not in his district. However I know people who work in Madison as interns for politicians and they have never heard of him either.

    @ my own thoughts…

    From the WISC story two things don’t sit well with me…

    Erpenback is “not sure how much it would cost to move non-violent 17-year-olds to the juvenile system.” Followed right up with, “lawmakers are also not sure how much the tax would generate.” To me it seems like he pulled this idea out of his ass and said “Hey, this would be a great idea which people would support because the evil video games!”

    Maybe if you could provide some hard numbers I could actually form an opinion on the subject instead of dismissing it because it is clearly a random out of the ass idea. His clear lack of understanding can be summed up in this little blurb from him, “The idea being that this is kind of a kids-kids thing, in other words, if we’re going to do this for kids.”

    Oh won’t someone please think of the children!? Not the market that games are primarily aimed at, the twenty year olds with high disposable income.

  32. 0
    BmK ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It pretty sad that the Democrats have become the anti-gaming party. I’d say about 80% of anti-gaming legislation (whether it be unconstitutional restrictions on the dissemination of games or taxes on games) comes from the Democrats.
    Probably because unlike the Film and Music industry, the video game industry hasn’t lined their pockets with millions of dollars for their re-election coffers and they’re looking for an easy way to look pro-family and a scapegoat for youth violence. The Democratic party disgusts me now. Of course that’s not to say the Republicans are any better. Both political parties suck. I think it’s about time for a 3rd party to make an entrance on the political landscape. A party that believes in upholding American’s constitutional rights. Both the Democrats and Republicans are incredibly anti-free speech and have no respect for the constitution anymore. Anything that they think will get them elected no matter how unconstitutional it is, they’ll do.

  33. 0
    william says:


    Like MonkeyPeaches said, its basically a game version of the cigarette tax, at first people where ok with it. It was only 50 cents per box. Now its at what? 30%?

    So if we allow them to start taxing video games, where will it end? I know this may sound Slippery slopeish, but while its at 1%, how long until it goes to 2%, then 5%, then 10%, etc.

    The cigarette tax is justifiable because there is a direct link between smoking, and increased insurance costs, increase in cancer, etc. There is no link between video games and violence.

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