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Netflix, other streaming services taxes are here in some states and coming soon to more

Marvel's reluctant superhero Jessica Jones, portrayed by Kristyn Ritter on the eponymous Netflix series, is back this month in The Defenders. She's why I subscribe. But will I, and millions of others, keep watching if streaming services are taxed?

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It's the weekend, so that means binge watching. Especially with The Defenders — gotta get me some more Jessica Jones! — now out on Netflix.

I'm not alone in subscribing to a streaming service or two. It's a relatively cheap entertainment option, especially when you consider that the 10 or so bucks a month are still less than one night's price for two tickets to a movie theater and its overpriced concessions.

Tuning in for streaming taxes: But the cost of streaming could soon go up in some states. This week's Shout Out Saturday story from USA Today warns us that a "Netflix tax" is already imposed in some taxes and coming in more.

The national newspaper's Mike Snider writes:

"Your monthly bill for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming entertainment services could go up soon as states such as Illinois try to find ways to offset declining sales taxes and other revenue shortfalls. Chicago, Pennsylvania and Florida have already passed a so-called Netflix tax, and cities such as Pasadena, Calif. have broached the issue."

Although the streaming taxes typically are less than $1 each month, Snider notes that over the months, and tacked onto multiple online subscriptions, they might add up to $50 or more each year.

Taxes keep expanding: Are you really surprised? Nothing is safe from taxes, or at least from being considered for taxation as states (and cities) look to plug budget holes.

As the digital offerings grow (CBS All Access this year, multiple Disney/ESPN outlets on the way), they make a mighty tempting target for tax collectors worried about their traditional retail tax bases shrinking.

If you're still a cable or satellite TV subscriber, you're likely paying tax on some premium services. My cable bill has added Texas tax on our movies package, special sports channels and HBO.

You can look at the streaming charges as the entertainment version of fees on electric cars that avoid state fuel taxes.

Or you can unplug from everything and read a book from your local library, which you already pay for via your taxes.

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Comments

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Steve Faber

Only a dollar? That's a roughly 10% tax. Is there nothing they can't keep their grubby mitts off of? Oh, wait, if it's in our pocket, wallet, or account, they think they are entitled to some of it.

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