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Swedish ruling party wants to tax streaming services like Netflix

Publicerad: 20 October 2015, kl. 12:19Uppdaterad: 20 October 2015, kl. 17:11

One of the two ruling parties in Sweden might try to introduce a tax on streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify in order to finance cultural investments.

Adam Jönsson

‘‘We are talking about multi-billion dollar corporations. It’s not like we’re ripping someone off,’’ Tjia Torpe, who led the team that worked on the report, tells Smashdig.

Miljöpartiet released a report outlining several steps in order for the cultural policies to become the fourth pillar of Sweden’s welfare system Monday.

Among the 12 suggestions is a point regarding digitalization. The team working on the report suggests a tax on broadband as well as taxing streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. Global IT giants such as Facebook and Google might also have to start paying a culture tax in Sweden, according to the report.

‘‘If we take Facebook as an example, a lot of culture is flowing through there and it’s reasonable that they’re helping [us] to pay for it,’’ says Torpe.

Sweden will not be the first country to try to tax companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, who pay very little tax in the country, if the suggestions become reality. France and other countries have tried the same thing, IDG Sweden reports.

But the political suggestions, in particular the one stating that broadband providers should pay a tax, have been met with criticism from, among others, opposition party Centerpartiet.

‘‘Access to broadband is a key factor if you want to be able to run businesses across the country,’’ Anders Åkesson, spokesperson for Centerpartiet, says in a press release. ‘‘It’s a completely headless suggestion that will only lead to price hikes and less expansion of the broadband network.’’

But Torpe sees the broadband tax as a way of ensuring that the entire country has access to affordable broadband connections.

‘‘We see it as completely necessary to have broadband access across the country. To me it’s just as much of an infrastructure question as are roads and railroads,’’ Torpe says.

Miljöpartiet wants the tax revenues to be used, among other things, to increase salaries for culture workers, an expansion of the broadband network and financing research about new digital revenue streams.

The report is still only a suggestion and Miljöpartiet must make a decision if the party will include all, a few or none of the outlined strategies in its platform.

‘‘These suggestions will make an important starting point when we will look at how we can develop and concretize our suggestions to strengthen the culture [policies],’’ says Anders Wallner, party secretary of Miljöpartiet, in a press release.

[Update Oct. 20: This story has been updated to include the comments of Tjia Torpe.]

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