WASHINGTON -- The House Ways and Means Committee completed its Tax Reform Act of 2014, and there were some strange bits of ethical pandering thrown into the mix. Among the headline-making highlights, a clause in the new tax bill states, "Preventing makers of violent videogames from qualifying for the R&D tax credit."
Even by Washington standards, it seems an odd inclusion. No doubt aimed at home market games like the Grand Theft Auto franchise, a strict interpretation could also include the 1980s-era arcade version of Donkey Kong with its fireballs and hazardous barrels.
Serious critics of the bill say the clause is directly opposed to the objective of the proposed legislation that would create "...an improved, permanent R&D tax credit, finally giving American manufacturers the certainty they need to compete against their foreign competition who have long had permanent R&D incentives.
Although the bill is a long way from going up for a vote or Presidential signature, the videogame industry is already reaching for the reset button with loud claims that it's picking winners and losers, imposing a sin tax and violating the First Amendment.
However, the videogame industry shouldn't feel too outraged. Another bullet point in the bill seeks "Ending tax breaks that result in museum curators living in penthouses and university presidents living in mansions tax-free." It would not be surprising if lawmakers' frustrations doubled should they discover museum curators and university presidents playing violent videogames in their sybaritic domiciles.