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RI lawmakers mull tax on music and video downloads

Music lovers downloading the Beatle’s “Taxman” will have to shell out a few extra pennies in Rhode Island under a proposal to tax music and video downloads, ringtones and digitally delivered software.

Consumers would pay a 7 percent tax when purchasing online content if the proposal passes. More than a dozen states already tax digital downloads, reflecting a desire by states to raise new revenue and an acknowledgement that tax policies need to evolve as consumers increasingly shop online.

Groups like the Download Fairness Coalition urge lawmakers to wait. The Washington-based group represents companies including Apple and Amazon and favors a single, national framework for taxing downloads to avoid a patchwork of conflicting state tax rules, according to Executive Director Sam Whitehorn.

“Say you’re at T.F. Green Airport and you download something on your phone, from a company that is in Texas, and you live in Colorado,” he said. “Who gets the taxes? If states are going to do these taxes, let’s make sure we do it right. Once a state imposes a tax it’s very difficult to undo it.”


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