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New Pa. sales tax aimed at digital downloads

David Weissman
  • Pa. lawmakers are considering extending the state's 6 percent sales tax to digital downloads.
  • The additional tax could generate nearly $47 million in revenue, according to a memo.
  • Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, calls it the "millennial tax."

As Pokemon Go continues to climb in popularity, Pennsylvania lawmakers moved to pass a sales tax that could impact residents' purchases within the app.

Goode Elementary School sixth-grader Ni'Lee Mariche, left, and classmates check-out the new Kindles the school received Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Temple Beth Israel sponsored the purchase. Bill Kalina photo

Legislators met Wednesday in Harrisburg to discuss options for balancing the state's deficit-riddled budget, and one of the methods approved included an extension of the state’s 6 percent sales tax to digital downloads of music, videos, books and apps, according to The Associated Press.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, said the tax includes video, streaming video, photos, books, apps, games, music, satellite radio and any taxable personal property.

Grove, who said he's against imposing any additional taxes on residents, is calling it the "millennial tax," because those are products typically purchased by that generation.

Pa. lawmakers eye final votes on tax package

Grove was unsure whether any other states currently imposed a similar tax, and he said he's interested to see how the Department of Revenue will collect it.

The department will need to answer questions regarding collecting from companies without a presence in Pennsylvania, he said.

The state Department of Revenue and Gov. Tom Wolf could not immediately be reached for comment.

The tax is expected to generate $46.9 million, according to a memo Grove received, but he said he thinks it could be larger.

Local authors: Cara Sue Achterberg, a Shrewsbury Township author, said she didn't realize e-books weren't already being taxed.

About half of her books' sales come from online downloads, but Achterberg said she didn't think it would affect her much.

"I don't make that much money (from book sales) anyway," she said. "It will probably (affect) my teenage children more."

Glen Rock author Demi Stevens, who helps other authors get published on the Kindle platform, said she didn't have a good handle on how the tax might impact online sales.

Stevens did say she downloads two or three books online each day, and the new sales tax wouldn't prevent her from continuing to do that.

"The price point for these books is around 99 cents to $1.29, so a (few extra) cents isn't going to change my mind," she said.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at@DispatchDavid.