UK gadget tax needed, say British actors, artists, and authors

A number of high-profile British actors, artists, and authors are calling for a UK gadget tax of anywhere from 1% to 3% to “fairly reward creators and performers in making a living from their content.” They have dubbed the proposal “the Smart Fund.”

The tax would be applied to any device that can be used to download and store “creative content,” so would apply to iPhones, iPads, and Macs …

The call was made in a letter to The Times, with a number of well-known signatories, including Olivia Colman (above), Sir Frank Bowling, Imelda Staunton, Rachel Whiteread, John Nettles, Joanne Harris, and Yinka Shonibare. BBC News reports.

In a letter in Tuesday’s Times newspaper, they claim a centralised “Smart Fund” could generate up to £300m per year for the UK’s creative sector. The levy would be between 1% and 3% of the overall price of a device […]

It would apply to everything that can “store and download creative content”. This includes laptops, PCs and smartphones, said a group of artist industry organisations behind the idea […]

The creative industries were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with British theaters forced to close during a lengthy total lockdown, and still only allowed to open with limited capacity.

The Argus reports that the proposal is backed by the Design and Artists Copyright Society.

Gilane Tawadros, chief executive of the Design And Artists Copyright Society (DACS), one of the groups backing the Smart Fund, said: “Working with the tech industry and innovators in this sector, we want to support creators and performers, to rebuild and enable the UK’s world leading cultural heritage, tourism and creative industries and contribute to its soft power and international standing.

“The arts provide sustenance to the engine room of cultural regeneration, recovery and renewal for the whole country.”

The artists claim that similar schemes already exist in 44 countries.

The UK gadget tax proposal is not, however, going down well in the tech field.

Tech UK, a network for the country’s tech sector, said it sounded like a “new tax” on consumers.

“It is an arbitrary tax on consumers that is hugely bureaucratic to manage, and with no transparency on how funds are disbursed and spent,” said a spokeswoman.

“Shoppers buying a new phone or laptop might have a lot of questions about why they should have to pay such additional charges, when they already pay a significant amount of VAT [sales tax].”

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