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Senator Warns of Email Tax This Fall 552

Posted by kdawson
from the maybe-this-time-for-real dept.
cnet-declan writes "State and local governments in Washington this week began an all-out lobbying push for the power to tax the Internet, according to our article at News.com. A new Senate bill would usher in Internet sales taxes, and the Federation of Tax Administrators (representing state tax collectors) advised senators at a hearing on Wednesday not to renew a temporary moratorium limiting broadband taxes that expires in November. One irked Republican senator warned that unless the moratorium is renewed, we could start seeing email taxes by the end of the year. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey blames it on the Democrats taking over, as do Yahoo and eBay lobbyists. Is this a non-hoax version of bill 602P?"
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Senator Warns of Email Tax This Fall

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  • Fine: Define email (Score:5, Interesting)

    by panxerox (575545) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:50AM (#19254511)
    They still don't get it, the Internet is not this easily defined thing that you can wrap thier minds around, its not about formats or drm or even email its about information. Anything thats describable as 1's and 0's can be transmitted over the internet, its like saying everytime you call a cab over a landline phone you have to pay a tax, uh no. How many ways can you now transmit info over the net now (?) its nearly infinite.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sneezinglion (771733)
      I thought you DID pay a tax when you used a land line phone? For each and every call you make a small portion goes to state and federal tax coffers.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:54AM (#19254581) Homepage Journal

      Fine: Define email

      They don't have to. TFAs are actually about taxing sales made over the internet, plus possible taxes on internet connections themselves. The whole email thing appears to be either a submitter or an editor invention.
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      its like saying everytime you call a cab over a landline phone you have to pay a tax, uh no

      I don't follow your logic. Everytime you call a cab over a landline phone you have to pay a tax. Uh, yes! Telephone service is taxed. Doesn't matter you're calling a cab.

      I think a better analogy is to say, everytime you make a purchase over the phone you owe the same taxes as if you has made that purchase in person (plus whatever phone taxes). (If the seller is in a different state, perhaps they aren't automat

    • by operagost (62405) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:51PM (#19255661) Homepage Journal

      They still don't get it, the Internet is not this easily defined thing that you can wrap thier minds around
      It's definitely not a truck you can just dump stuff on, either.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lockejaw (955650)
        Well, when was the last time you sent data by truck? You're supposed to use a bus.
  • Wait... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dreddnott (555950) <dreddnott@yahoo.com> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:51AM (#19254535) Homepage
    So they plan on taxing things that don't make anybody any money? Or are they only taxing commercial e-mail?
    • I'm all for it if they want to only tax spam.
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        I'm all for it if they want to only tax spam.

              I can't wait for you to find out that your computer is infected with a bot, when you get a $450,000 tax bill...
    • by yog (19073) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:25PM (#19256323) Homepage Journal
      Well there were several things mentioned in the article. While taxing email is technically unfeasible not to mention rather ridiculous, they definitely want to tax commerce that utilizes the Internet to work more efficiently.

      For example, if you buy a book off Amazon.com, Amazon would pay local taxes to the "streamlined sales tax" system they're proposing. Of course, the consumer would bear the expenses of such a tax.

      They (I'm lumping all the tax maggots into one pronoun) also want to impose a monthly internet use tax, i.e. a DSL tax.

      What the Dems don't get is that the supply side approach is much better as was demonstrated during the 90s when many successful companies were founded such as Amazon and EBay. Although local sales taxes are avoided, these companies nonetheless contribute mightily to the tax base through employee income taxes, employee purchase of local homes, cars, food, travel services, and other products, corporate income tax, capital gains and other stock transaction related taxes, etc.

      The internet revolution demonstrated the superiority of supply side economics. The successful companies generate the most revenue streams for the government in an organic manner. Imposing a regressive, universal tax on transactions will probably not destroy the current giants but will certainly discourage new companies from flourishing. Instead, incompetence will be rewarded because local governments will get all kinds of revenue they didn't deserve and will become totally dependent on it.

      Then there are the unknown future uses of the internet that most of us can't even conceive. What about internet-based medical care? A surgeon on another continent operating on a patient via precision remote control, or physicians providing consultative services remotely--all of this will get taxed, and the middleware companies that are trying to market these services will get taxed to death before they can even get off the ground.

      Monthly internet connection tax--what a slippery slope! Next they'll be taxing by the byte. Ultimately the cost of doing business for everyone will go up, including bricks and mortar stores which are also dependent on the internet today to run their businesses. Salaries will necessarily go down, people will have less discretionary income as a result, and the U.S. economy will be further Europeanized.

      It will then become even more economically attractive to outsource manufacturing and service jobs. This is all to China and India's benefit. Thank you Hilary and the Dems for destroying the last bits of American competitiveness, and thank you to the American people for voting these imbeciles in.
  • by Organic Brain Damage (863655) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:52AM (#19254553)
    we'll just tax the 1's and leave the 0's free?

    If it's an out-bound tax, could it be used to make SPAM economically unrewarding?
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      If it's an out-bound tax, could it be used to make SPAM economically unrewarding?

      Well, they could conceivably not pay the tax. Of course then they stand to get the Al Capone treatment from the Treasury Department and the IRS for tax evasion. I'll admit, it's the only real upside I could find to this idea.

  • by Bananatree3 (872975) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:52AM (#19254555)
    put a toll meter on one of the Tubes. Voila!
  • DAMNIT! (Score:5, Funny)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:53AM (#19254561) Journal
    If they start taxing Email I will just start using Gmail!

    Now take that you bastards!
  • by hxnwix (652290) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:55AM (#19254593) Journal
    That makes sense because Mr. Enzi, the bill's sponser, who is listed at the very top of the bill as its sponser, is a Republican.

    Yes. That's right. Republicans want big government in your computer and want big government's hand in your wallet.
    • by KermodeBear (738243) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:58AM (#19254669) Homepage
      Unfortunately, this is turning out to be more and more true as time goes on. The Republican party is really losing touch with traditional conservatism: Small government, low taxes, state rights. That's why I'm leaning more towards the (weirdo-filled but well meaning) Libertarian party these days.
      • Vote for Ron Paul (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lost+Found (844289) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:54PM (#19255707)

        Brief Overview of Congressman Pauls Record
          He has never voted to raise taxes.
          He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
          He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
          He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
          He has never taken a government-paid junket.
          He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
        He voted against the Patriot Act.
          He voted against regulating the Internet.
          He voted against the Iraq war.

        http://www.ronpaul2008.com/ [ronpaul2008.com]
        • He's against abortion, gays, all the usual stuff.

          Not much of a Libertarian at all.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dr_dank (472072)
          He voted against the Patriot Act.

          I thought Russ Feingold was the only congressman to vote against the Patriot Act.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DefenderThree (920248)

      Yes. That's right. Republicans want big government in your computer and want big government's hand in your wallet.
      Yes, but it seems a Republican brought our attention to this bill and the former Republican Majority Leader is complaining about it. Clearly a bolded generalization is in order here!
    • In general, yes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149)
      Although this particular bills sponsor is Republican, if you follow the other story links the general thinking is that by one means or another a house and congress with a larger democratic population is more likley to rescind the tax break.

      Yes there are also Republicans that support this, but in aggregate in previous years the Republican members have been more inclined to keep the tax break. We'll know if the speculation about the Democrats wanting to break it actually is true or not if it survives another
    • by bryan1945 (301828) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:45PM (#19255567) Journal
      Why blame Dems or Reps? They both want your money. They both are trying to take aware personal freedoms. I'm an independent, and have voted both ways, but as one poster below said, the Libertarians are looking better.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:55AM (#19254605)
    nor is it a set group of people, places, etc.

    Just how do they expect to enforce their levy of taxes?

    Trying to tax the internet is somewhat like trying to tax other forms of communication. The best they'll be able to do is tax the businesses that provide a service to connect to the internet (telcos and ISPs).

    That reminds me of something... wasn't the Stamp Act one of those "taxation without representation" things that pissed off the revolutionaries in the 13 colonies? Hmmm...
    • by MollyB (162595) *

      [...]Just how do they expect to enforce their levy of taxes?

      Trying to tax the internet is somewhat like trying to tax other forms of communication. The best they'll be able to do is tax the businesses that provide a service to connect to the internet (telcos and ISPs).[...]

      I would suppose they'll strong-arm those US telcos they can reach by leaning on the states in which they are based by withholding highway funds (a time-tested form of federal coercion). I don't see how they'd deal with non-US providers.

      In a perfect world, I'd be happy to pay a cent or two for sending email if it meant the death of spam, UCE, or chain-letters!

  • Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by boilerbrown (1006617)
    maybe this would be an opportunity to take out some spammers a la Al Capone. Hit em with some tax fraud for all the wonderful pharmaceutical, mortgage, personal advices, etc. that everyone seems to need so desperately.
  • The problem... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RealBothersome (838593) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:56AM (#19254619)
    Is the people need to stop electing idiots.
  • by Lt.Hawkins (17467) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:56AM (#19254629) Homepage
    If one protocol is taxed, we can push another protocol to take over. Imagine, if email is taxed, having the entire industry shift to a better system that is not regulated, and having the opportunity to design much-needed controls and authentication in to eliminate spam.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      To really have a tax kill email so we could switch to something better would require a world-wide tax from all governments. Not gonna happen.
  • Here in Europe we pay VAT on our ISP charges, but I'm sure our forthcoming Great Leader will have his glass eye on trying to find another way to extract coins from the tubes.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:57AM (#19254639)
    Do I get hit with a $70,000 tax bill?

    What happens when I'm in a coffee shop using an anonymous mailer?

    Do I have to attach my credit card number to each e-mail and, as a corrallary, can I not send e-mail 10 days later when all credit cards are canceled until further notice?
  • by brxndxn (461473) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @11:57AM (#19254647)
    Spammers won't give a shit or report their activities. So, they won't be the ones paying the tax - even though they do the majority of emailing.

    However, legitimite businesses and users would be more likely to attempt to pay this tax - which would mean keeping track of outgoing emails.. to how many people.. resends.. attachments.. sizes?

    Come on Congress! Get a fucking grasp of the ideas you're trying to make into law before you even talk about acting on them. Congress seems to be full of a bunch of morons making snap decisions based on ideas they cannot begin to comprehend.

    The only thing Congress should even talk about taxing is Internet-based sales.. Taxing data that essentially costs ZERO should be taxed at a flat rate, to be fair, which would mean ZERO tax income. They could even set the rate at 500% for all I care.
    • by PFI_Optix (936301)
      "Congress" isn't considering taxing e-mail that we've ever heard. One Republican is getting all hyperbolic and trying to grab headlines (quite successfully) by exaggerating the issue the way politicians are prone to doing.

      Of course, this immediately prompts a swarm of "lying Republicans" posts...but hey, this is the internet. All Republicans lie here. Apparently Democrats don't.

      Me, I prefer to rant about lying politicians :)
    • by mpapet (761907)
      You must be new to the U.S.

      I'm all for outrage, but what have you done to be sure your Federal/State/Local representatives are representing honest people?
  • The republicans are throwing up smoke. Right now ALL retailers and people are required to pay sales tax on out of state items (depending on your state), most do not though because of varying loopholes and other features which benefit the businesses but lower sales tax revenue. What seems to be going through is a streamlining of the tax laws to take out all of those loopholes that businesses where using.

    There is no mention or even hint that this is going to be used on email. The republicans are only saying

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:15PM (#19255001) Homepage Journal
      "Right now ALL retailers and people are required to pay sales tax on out of state items (depending on your state)"
      Ummm... Huh?

      States are forbidden from taxing interstate commerce. In some states if you buy something from out of state you the customer are supposed to pay the tax.

      How can ALL the Retailers be required to pays sales tax on out of state items (depending on your state)?
      1. I don't think you know what the world ALL means.
      2. It isn't true. You must pay sales tax if you have a presence in that state. If you have a store, sales rep, office, or warehouse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jfengel (409917)
        I gather (IANAL) that most states require you to pay taxes on stuff that is shipped into the state for you. (I believe it's called the use tax [wikipedia.org]. They just can't force the retailer in another state to collect it under the current rules. You're supposed to report it on your taxes and pay it.

        Honestly, I wouldn't know how to go about paying it in my state. Theoretically I'm on the hook for 5% of everything I've ever had shipped to my house.

        This is all about trying to collect a tax that (theoretically) you o
  • if you tax email, folks will IM.
    if you tax IM, folks will do something else.

    Are you going to tax each sentence I type into an online game?
    Each thing I type in an online meeting?

    You could tax on total bytes transmitted but to try to tax based on the type of transmission is just asking for trouble and probably impossible given how malleable data is.
  • If most people only have 20% in landline tax, I'm getting screwed somewhere. My service is $12 a month, and I pay $10 a month in taxes, which means I'm paying about 80% in tax rates. I can't imagine my Comcast bill going up to have even 20% of taxes too... I wouldn't be able to afford it for sure. It would take us from $42.95 a month to $52 a month...
  • Dump Trucks (Score:2, Funny)

    by Octopus (19153)
    If Al Gore had invented the Internets as a bunch of dump trucks, it would be much easier to implement a tollbooth system. With all the maintenance it takes to clear up the tube system, it makes the true cost more abstract and difficult to quantify.

    However, look at it this way - it will help create more government Internets jobs. Emails have to be cleaned because video packets leave color smudges on the envelopes; so many germs are passed on online money transactions and those UV cleaners have to be mainta
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:04PM (#19254767)
    All the articles state is that it's more likely to happen that the tax moratorium may end under the Democratic controlled house and senate, than if the government was composed of more Republican members.

    Looks like it's just a cheap call to try to get some votes and cheap political points in. After all, the next round of elections will probably be heavily Internet based, and they're only a year away. What better way to rally people who haven't decided yet by saying their precious Internet is not going to be the tax-free haven it once was? (Especially given how the current Republican in power is potentially making life difficult for Republicans in swing states. Might as well try to score some cheap political points amongst bloggers and stuff when they post "OH NOES, INTERNET TAXES!!!!" when it's just a bill being discussed, and chances are better that the moratorium may end under a Democrat-controlled senate. They never actually said what chances are, after all. If it was likely to end with a 1% chance under Republicans and 1.5% under Democrats, well, chances are better (but no way it'll pass)...

    You may now resume your "OH NOES, INTERNET TAXES ARE HERE!!!!" posts. ;-)
  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpiritGod21 (884402) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:11PM (#19254899) Homepage
    I just skimmed the bill linked in the summary... is it just me, or does this 1) not appear to apply to email whatsoever (it's not mentioned anywhere in the bill, though VOIP is) and 2) only applies to business doing $5 million USD or more in business a year.
  • FTA: If that doesn't happen, other taxes may zoom upward instead, warned Sen. Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. "Are we implicitly blessing a situation where states are forced to raise other taxes, such as income or property taxes, to offset the growing loss of sales tax revenue?" Enzi said. "I want to avoid that."

    Well here's a simple idea... SPEND LESS MONEY!

    Wow, imagine that, if you don't waste as much money, you wont have to tax the public more. Whodathunkit?

    -Rick
  • Is raw traffic, starting at the ISP. I.e. for example charge you 5 cents per GB, or something like that.

    Unfortunately this means you miss on opportunities to charge low-traffic and high-value messages, like email. Or chat, but that's life.

    If they tried to tax email, people would just ignore it.
  • Familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sciros (986030) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:13PM (#19254947) Journal
    It's similar to what the Dems pulled with the "bringing back the draft" BS they tried to claim Republicans were planning during the 2004 election (Dems were the ones who proposed twin bills for it, but then voted against it cause it was just a campaign tool to get college students to pledge votes for Kerry).

    Now Republicans seem to be doing the same thing. Propose a BS bill, then claim "it's the Democrats' fault!"

    I F-ING HATE POLITICS
  • by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption.kuruption@net> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:16PM (#19255005) Homepage
    There are two separate things going on here.

    First, the bill in the story has nothing to do with taxing internet email. It has to do with, specifically, sales taxes on goods purchased over the internet.

    The second part of the story is about the temporary moratorium limiting broadband taxes which limits taxes on items such as email, web surfing, etc.

    Needless to say, these things are completely different. Leave it to crap|net to mix them all up to get your feathers ruffled.

    In the first case, the bill being sponsored by Mr Envi, I kind of understand where he is coming from. States and local governments get a lot of their revenue from sales tax. Since there has been an increasing number of purchases made online, state and local governments and losing out on that sales tax money, which means they need to raise other taxes (e.g. property, fuel) in order to compensate. This hurts everyone, even those that do not own computers, and especially hurts the elderly who live on limited income. This bill also simplifies how states collect taxes for retailers to reduce paperwork, and has an exemption for e-tailers that earn less than $5 million a year doing internet sales.

    On the temporary moratorium limiting broadband taxes, this is something that has been renewed every couple of years for the last several under the Republican-led congress. The idea is that general broadband services are not taxed, such as email and web surfing, at the federal and state levels. It does not appear this will be renewed which means *new* taxes could (and probably will) be added to Internet users.

    Now that it is clear...

    While some may point out that Mr. Enzi is a Republican raising taxes, he's not so much raising taxes as he is 1) simplifying sales taxes; 2) ensuring the "current" level of taxes imposed by states; 3) thus reducing property taxes; 4) helping maintain state governments who are having financial problems due to lack of sales tax revenue.

    On the other hand, the Democrats, if they do not renew the ban on broadband taxes, will be creating new taxes that will impact every internet user. These are not taxes that are being avoided or taxes that are being suppressed.... these are NEW taxes.. and we all know how the Democrats love their taxes!

    • by dcollins (135727) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:59PM (#19255819) Homepage

      While some may point out that Mr. Enzi is a Republican raising taxes, he's not so much raising taxes as he is 1) simplifying sales taxes; 2) ensuring the "current" level of taxes imposed by states; 3) thus reducing property taxes; 4) helping maintain state governments who are having financial problems due to lack of sales tax revenue.

      On the other hand, the Democrats, if they do not renew the ban on broadband taxes, will be creating new taxes that will impact every internet user. These are not taxes that are being avoided or taxes that are being suppressed.... these are NEW taxes.. and we all know how the Democrats love their taxes!

      Republicans raise taxes --> that's really lowering taxes.
      Democrats don't raise taxes --> that's really raising taxes.
      ORWELLIZATION COMPLETE.

      gg gop

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goldspider (445116)
      2) ensuring the "current" level of taxes imposed by states; 3) thus reducing property taxes

      2 has never ensured 3. Ever.
  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:26PM (#19255195)
    In some states you are required to declare out of state purchases (Internet purchases) in some form or another. A lot of people ignore it though or argue the interpretation. Wisconsin also requires out of state purchases to be declared on income taxes.

    http://www.revenue.wi.gov/faqs/ise/usetax.html [wi.gov]
    http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/pub79b.pdf [ca.gov]
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-perfin18mar1 8,1,6878957.column [latimes.com]
  • by Tiger Smile (78220) <james@noSpAm.dornan.com> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:37PM (#19255405) Homepage
    ...income tax was voted in, and NEVER voted out, I don't see taxes not happening. I'll fight it and we all should. But don't allow the Coke and Pepsi parties to point fingers and distract you. Putting any political animal in charge of any taxes is like handing control of the local CVS(drug store) to the local drug addict. Dillinger once was asked why he robbed banks. "Because that's where the money's at." Smart man. If he had been in politics he'd have gone far.

    When someone spends $40,000,000 on a $400,000 a year job, you can assume they have been corrupted. Watch them like a hawk. Always.
  • by lord_mike (567148) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:09PM (#19255985)

    If the moratorium expires, one ardent tax foe is predicting taxes on e-mail. A United Nations agency proposed in 1999 the idea of a 1-cent-per-100-message tax, but retreated after criticism.

    "They might say, 'We have no interest in having taxes on e-mail,' but if we allow the prohibition on Internet taxes to expire, then you open the door on cities and towns and states to tax e-mail or other aspects of Internet access," said Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican. "We need to be honest about what we're endorsing and what we're opposing."


    When reality doesn't side with your politics, you just make stuff up or pull it out of your behind.... Kudos to the senator's staffer who found an 8 year old story and make it sound like an "impending threat of dire circumstance!" when it is complete fiction.

    None of these proposals "tax"... The two issues are whether sites like Amazon.com should collect sales taxes for out of state sales (like any major catalog company like Sears has been doing for generations), and whether municipalities can tax internet access like they do phone and cable... The original moratorium was designed to encourage greater participation in the Internet. that goal has been accomplished, and further subsidizing it probably makes little sense.

    Yes, it sucks.... no one likes paying taxes, but the roads don't get built by themselves, and the cops don't protect your house for free. The money has to come from somewhere.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • Don't complain (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:12PM (#19256061)
    Either you oppose taxes or your don't. There's no middle-ground, every tax is irrational. Taxing dividends, gas, the internet, cheese consumption is ethically similar.
    If you complain about email/internet taxes but think income tax, wealth tax, consumption taxes or social security are OK, you are just bitching for your own petty particular situation. If you want to be consistent (and ethical), you should reject *any* tax.

    This story is just another example that the government will try and tax whatever it can for the purpose of ever increasing its power. Not only does it allow them to 'legally' control the internet, it provides them with the financial mean to do so...
    • Re:Don't complain (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kohath (38547) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:21PM (#19256247)
      Actually, certain taxes are different. Taxing gas to pay for road construction is more-or-less a pay-per-use system. It's not irrational at all.

      Taxing property to pay for a fire department to protect property is similar.

      Lots of taxes make sense and lots of others don't.
  • by Random832 (694525) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:49PM (#19256661)
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode39/us c_sec_39_00000601----000-.html [cornell.edu]
    (a) A letter may be carried out of the mails* when--
    (1) it is enclosed in an envelope;
    (2) the amount of postage which would have been charged on the letter if it had been sent by mail is paid by stamps, or postage meter stamps, on the envelope;
    (3) the envelope is properly addressed;
    (4) the envelope is so sealed that the letter cannot be taken from it without defacing the envelope;
    (5) any stamps on the envelope are canceled in ink by the sender; and
    (6) the date of the letter, of its transmission or receipt by the carrier is endorsed on the envelope in ink.

    *in context, "out of the mails" means any form of delivery other than the US postal service

    NONE of these are satisfied by typical emails.
  • by DanielMarkham (765899) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @02:46PM (#19257595) Homepage

    Let's cut to the chase:

    • It's not about partisan politcs. It's a power grab by a political system that continues to trade money to special interests for votes. Not all spending is bad. Some is. But that's a conversation for a different day.
    • It's not about email, sales tax, or whatever. It's about having a lot of money floating around on the net, and politicians wanting a piece of the action.
    • It's not about reason. Yes, taxing email makes no sense. Neither does taxing online sales, which will just move elsewhere or underground. This is the same political setup as DRM -- people will wave their hands around and make great moral arguments about people "paying their fair share" and "making big business pull it's weight" ad infinitum. If you choose to buy this schtick, don't come complaining to me
    • These things have historical patterns which are instructive. Take a look at the income tax: passed in the early 1900s to pay for WWI. Supposed to only be around a few years. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), passed recenty, supposed to sock it to the rich guys who have too many tax breaks. In each of these cases and dozens more, the bozo-head making the original pitch disappears but the tax never does. Most times it just grows. "Letting the moratorium expire" or "streamlining the tax sysem" is just a way of getting a foot in the door. They know they can't go after your wallet directly, so they're willing to take a decade or two. Like the story of boiling the frog.
    • This isn't about good people or bad people, or good government or bad government. This is about the natural tendency of the government over the past seventy years to consume more and more resources from the people it is supposed to be protecting. I imagine most of these expenditures are great ideas. The problem is that we can't pay for the crap politicians got elected on twenty years ago, much less the crap they're promising for the upcoming election. Both parties, full of great, smart, ethical people, are stuck in a process that is always looking for more money to pay off special interests. Nobody fixes a problem that isn't immediate and crtical because they get votes for blaming things on the other guys.
    • It's a losing game. We can try to stop them at this line by trying to pass something like a constitutional ammendment preventing any tax on internet-based economic activity, but this is a thousand-year battle, guys. One which we'll probably lose very quickly while you-all go patting yourself on the back for not buying into the FUD and being so much smarter the the political wonks.
    • It'll work just like DRM. In the grand scheme, it will push the economy underground where it will be completely unregulated and offshore where people actually appreciate the business. But pay attention: soon (within ten years) we'll be hearing those same old DRM stories spun for sales taxes. Granny makes rugs in basement and goes to jail for failing to file. Big companies setting up offshore pulling american dollars for the same stuff that used to happen here. More politicians will appear on TV yelling at the other side for getting us into this mess, and promising to fix it (either by law and order or by relaxing the law). Nothing will happen, though, because this will become yet another issue that can be used to stir up support for an election. Fixing the problem would be like throwing cold water on the base, so it ain't gonna happen.
  • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @09:15PM (#19263473)

    [G]overnment's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

    http://www.presidentreagan.info/speeches/quotes.cf m [presidentreagan.info]

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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