France considers taxing computer screens
In socialist paradises like France, it's getting harder to escape the tax man when he cometh to collect.
The French government is considering extending the television licence fee to include computer screen owners to boost revenues for public-sector broadcasting operations, the culture minister said on Saturday.
President François Hollande's Socialist government aims to raise an extra €7.5bn (£6bn) this year through tax rises included in an amended budget bill to be unveiled next week.
"Is it necessary to extend the fee to [computer] screens when you do not have a television? It is a question we're asking ourselves, but obviously it would be a fee per household and you would not have to pay an [additional] fee if you have a computer and a television," Aurélie Filippetti said on RTL radio.
She said the government would study the new measure in 2013.
The licence fee - €125 in mainland France and €80 in its overseas territories - is used to finance public television and radio.
According to a Global TV survey in March, more than 11 million French people watch television programmes on computer screens, tablets or smart phones, a rise of 41% on 2011.
I might not watch any TV either if it cost me 125 euros a year. So people voted with their screens and started to watch TV on their computers. This kind of freedom of choice is frowned on by socialist governments because the rebels escape the tax man's clutches.
To fund all their schemes, the socialists have to get creative in finding new revenue. They haven't quite got around to taxing the air we breathe, but the way they're going, it will eventually come to that.