Tax on mobile devices could raise $3M for investigations of internet crimes against kids
SEATTLE - Some state lawmakers are proposing a tax on new mobile devices to help law enforcement pay for investigations involving online crimes against children.
House Bill 2389 would create a 40 cent tax on retail sale of wireless devices used to access the internet, such smart phones, tablets or laptops.
Seattle Police Capt. Mike Edwards, who oversees the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, supports the bill.
He and his team investigate some of the worst crimes committed against children in our state.
"I've been doing this for 37 years," he said. "Without a doubt this is the most vile material that we come across and we come across it on a regular basis."
Money from the bill would help efforts to solve those crimes and rescue victims.
"The bottom line for us is we're overwhelmed with cases in this state," he told a committee hearing in Olympia on Friday.
It's estimated the tax would bring in about $3 million a year.
Capt. Edwards said some of that money could be used to dedicate full-time staff to investigate internet crimes against children.
Some who testified against the proposal argued wireless consumers in Washington already pay the highest taxes on their bills. They also said the language is too broad and could apply to a range of devices.
"Smart phones don't commit the crimes, criminals do," said one opponent.
"For my folks, every time that they rescue a child that's a big win for us and we celebrate that," said Capt. Edwards. "But the simple reality is that this is why we do it. We know these victims are out there. If we're not doing it, it may be years before anything is uncovered."
Money from the tax would also include wireless training for staff dealing with these crimes.
Capt. Edwards said the work takes a toll - the average person works on the cases five to seven years, but some only take six months.