Georgia House again backs taxing book, video game, music downloads

Measure could bring in $200 million a year by fiscal 2028

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

The state House resuscitated a measure late Monday to charge sales taxes when Georgians download books, video games or music.

House Bill 170 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, is the latest attempt by lawmakers to tax products purchased through internet sites in an effort to bring those sales in line with taxes paid when Georgians buy similar products from local stores.

It easily passed the House earlier this month, but Senate tax writers tacked on a measure to make it easier for Georgians to get beer, wine and liquor delivered to their home. The politically powerful beer, wine and liquor distributors’ lobby stalled the measure.

So the House revived Carpenter’s original legislation by tacking it onto a less controversial retirement law measure, Senate Bill 56, and it passed Monday 168-1.

If it wins final approval, the digital download tax is expected to bring in $80 million in state and local sales taxes in the upcoming fiscal year, $172 million the following year and more than $200 million a year by fiscal 2028.

The House and Senate passed legislation in early 2020, a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the economy, to collect more sales taxes on products bought through internet sites. The new tax proved a major boon to the state as Georgians began buying more and more products online. The state has run massive revenue surpluses the past two fiscal years, and the internet sales tax was credited with being one of several factors in that.

Carpenter’s bill would expand on the previous measures to include downloads of things such as books, video games and music that a buyer retains possession of. It wouldn’t tax streaming services — such as Netflix — or subscription-based products, he said.

Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin, a longtime member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the panel has been looking in recent years at the issue of parity for local stores that charge the state’s 4% sales tax and local sales taxes when Georgians buy products from them.