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Communications The Almighty Buck

Florida Ponders Communication Tax on LANs 406

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the apropos-per-diem dept.
victor_the_cleaner writes "Here in Florida, a little known tax provision may lead to LANs being taxed. According to the article, 'The provision was intended to make sure companies operating their own land line communication systems, which two decades ago was limited to large utilities and railroads, were paying the same taxes paid by those who rely on commercial phone carriers. About 10 companies (in Florida) pay more than $1.2 million annually based on that definition. However, the statute is so broadly worded that it could be interpreted to describe a local area network.' Internal auditors at the city of Tampa noticed a couple of years ago that the substitute communications service provision was still there and asked state officials why it wasn't being enforced. And now people like Sharon Fox, the city of Tampa's tax revenue coordinator are pushing for enforcement."
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Florida Ponders Communication Tax on LANs

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  • Home enforcement? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wo1verin3 (473094) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:13PM (#8876204) Homepage
    I would guess that the people pushing for enforcement don't really understand what they're asking for and that it will cost their offices as well.
    • by DAldredge (2353)
      The gov doesn't pay taxes. They don't have to pay to register their cars, they don't have to pay gas tax and they don't have to pay a host of other fees.
    • by Bobdoer (727516) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:22PM (#8876294) Homepage Journal
      What are they going to do? Get a LAN inspector?

      LAN Inspector: "Hello, mam. I need to search your house for networking cables in order to tax you properly."

      How many people are going to open their door to a guy that that? It seems more like a wallet inspector position to me.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:59PM (#8876603)
        Who is it?

        Plumber!

        I didn't call a plumber. Who is it!?

        Flowers!

        Flowers for who?

        Plumber!

        Why you're that crazy Landshark aren't you?

        No ma'am, I'm just a dolphin. Will you let me in please?

        A dolphin? OK.

        Aaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!! You're not a dolphin. You're a filthy A LAN inspector!!!

      • by b0r0din (304712) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:08PM (#8876650)
        Well this is Florida too. Let's just call him a LAN Shark.

        "Who is it?"

        "Plumber."

        "I didn't hire a plumber. Who is it?"

        "Candygram."

        "You're...that crazy LAN Shark I've been hearing about on Slashdot, aren't you?!"

        "No ma'am, I'm...I'm just a dolphin."
    • by macdaddy (38372) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:22PM (#8876307) Homepage Journal
      It's not that they don't understand (which they don't); it's that they don't care. All they see is yet another unharnessed source of income. I bet you that the law is so vaguely worded that it could describe the connection between you and your provider (DSL), you and your cable company for TV or cable modem, cordless multi-unit telephones (like the pair Sam's sold last X-mas that could have more handsets added to the setup), and even the datalink between your PDA and your desktop. Hell I bet it could even be applied to your USB hub and devices. I bet this law is that vague. They really don't care what the impact is. They just want more money.
      • And the good new is, that laws can be challenged on the point that they are too cague. The bad news is that few people rarely do - or often enough can't afford to - take it to court when the law may be shot down.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        the connection between you and your provider (DSL)

        Duh. That is already taxed. Whether you have DSL or Cable the government is getting part of what you pay. That is the point of the article. The government already taxes the regular communication networks. They wanted to make sure that company's that run their own lines pay tax, too. Only in Florida it seems they got carried away. And guessing that it is vague enough for those other things is just silliness. The law would basically have to say - tax
      • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:41PM (#8876460) Journal
        I bet you that the law is so vaguely worded that it could describe the connection between you and your provider (DSL), you and your cable company for TV or cable modem, cordless multi-unit telephones (like the pair Sam's sold last X-mas that could have more handsets added to the setup), and even the datalink between your PDA and your desktop
        And if it is so vague, it probably applies and always applied to PBXs, which did exist and were common when the law was written.

        So either it has a specific exclusion for PBXs, or I really doubt that it covers LANs anyway. In any case, just sling a couple of VoIP phones on the LAN and call it a PBX system!

      • Re:Home enforcement? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dalcius (587481) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (todhsals+3143msirhc)> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:03PM (#8876622)
        They really don't care what the impact is. They just want more money.

        No kidding. I'll make a disclaimer and mention that I didn't RTFA, but offhand it sounds like they're taxing private networks like they do public networks which were funded with public money.

        Ahem... Let me say this again:
        They are taxing private networks built by private companies with their own money.

        How can you justify that one? Seriously? That's like taxing me for writing a perl script to do nightly backups of some of my files, or taxing a company for developing internal middleware software.

        Or taxing open source software a la the April 1st article here on Slashdot.

        Are we sure this article isn't a couple weeks late?
        • by RTMFD (69819)
          Ahem... Let me say this again:
          They are taxing private networks built by private companies with their own money.


          How is this different than the income tax? I can sit on my arse in a shack year round, using no govt. services and still have to pay the income tax. I make money from the fruit of my labors, "built" with my valuable time, and I still have to give Uncle Sam his cut.

          Taxes suck. Full Stop.
          • by fr0dicus (641320)
            Lets hope the portion of your tax that goes towards policing helps prevent your shack from getting broken in to, or that which goes towards the fire service that will be available should your shack catch fire. Or the army that provides the country your shack is in with the security against invasion from neighbouring countries. Or the public roads that you travel on from your shack to your office or grocery store to work or get food. Do you have a toilet and running water in your shack? etc.

            I could go on if

      • by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:42PM (#8876888) Homepage
        It's not that they don't understand (which they don't); it's that they don't care. All they see is yet another unharnessed source of income.
        That they see nothing but an unharnessed source of income comes from two forces;
        • Inflation - A dollar simply does not go as far as it used to.
        • The public - Who keep insisting that the goverment provide ever more services (without somehow increasing taxes).
    • Re:Home enforcement? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Unnngh! (731758)
      Then again...

      This [slashdot.org] is from last year when Florida was pushing to pass new legislation to tax LANs.

      I think someone (read the revenue service) may have an agenda...

    • Re:Home enforcement? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mar1boro (189737) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:35PM (#8876412) Homepage
      My paranoia is asserting iteself, again.
      I'm pretty sure they know exactly what they
      are doing. Identifying any specific device
      for taxation (ie. automobiles) makes it much
      easier to keep track of.
    • people like Sharon Fox, the city of Tampa's tax revenue coordinator are pushing for enforcement

      NO, somebody who is in charge of tax enforcement wants to start a new tax that will require more funds going to the tax department? Say it ain't so!
  • justification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bersl2 (689221) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:14PM (#8876213) Journal
    I see one and only one way a tax on LANs becomes fair. That is if the tax money goes to improving the local and regional communications infrastructure
    • Re:justification (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bwy (726112)
      Well, what if we spend the tax money on a $20,000 toilet seat for the shitter of some government employees involved with the improvement of the local and regional communications infrastructure?

      Or maybe I could interest you in a $1000 hammer? I've yet to see a good ROI for my tax money. Based on that, I'd say the less taxes/less forced goverment services, the better.
      • Re:justification (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Aardpig (622459) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @09:10PM (#8877059)

        I've yet to see a good ROI for my tax money.

        Sometimes, it is wrong-headed to judge ROI in purely financial terms. Both the Lincoln and Washington monuments were funded using public money; yet I don't think you will find many arguing that this money was wasted. There are areas where public funding can meet a need, for which there is no private-enterprise motivation to address.

        • Highway Robbery (Score:4, Insightful)

          by leereyno (32197) on Friday April 16, 2004 @04:13AM (#8878973) Homepage Journal
          I don't give a damn what the government buys with the money they steal, the point is that they don't have any right to it in the first place.

          Misapplication of the law for the purpose of generating revenue is nothing short of extortion. This law was not passed for the purpose they are trying to use it for. It is therefore an abuse of power which it is the duty of every citizen of the state of Florida to resist.

          Lee
      • Re:justification (Score:5, Informative)

        by Idarubicin (579475) <(allsquiet) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @10:38PM (#8877589) Journal
        Or maybe I could interest you in a $1000 hammer?

        The $1000 hammer is a myth. Actually, it's even a badly reported myth--the usual figure cited by the media back in the Eighties was $600, and the real number on the books is $435.

        Still, that seems rather shocking...until you dig deeper and realize that the hammer's actual cost was fifteen dollars. Sydney Freedberg described the issue in Government Executive magazine way back in 1998 [govexec.com].

        One problem: "There never was a $600 hammer," said Steven Kelman, public policy professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. It was, he said, "an accounting artifact."

        The military bought the hammer, Kelman explained, bundled into one bulk purchase of many different spare parts. But when the contractors allocated their engineering expenses among the individual spare parts on the list--a bookkeeping exercise that had no effect on the price the Pentagon paid overall--they simply treated every item the same. So the hammer, originally $15, picked up the same amount of research and development overhead--$420--as each of the highly technical components, recalled retired procurement official LeRoy Haugh. (Later news stories inflated the $435 figure to $600.)

        "The hammer got as much overhead as an engine," Kelman continued, despite the fact that the hammer cost much less than $420 to develop, and the engine cost much more?"but nobody ever said, 'What a great deal the government got on the engine!' "

        Thus retold, the legend of the $600 hammer becomes a different kind of cautionary tale. It is no longer about simple, obvious waste. The new moral is that numbers, taken as self-explanatory truths by the public and the press, can in fact be the woefully distorted products of a broken accounting system.

        I don't for a minute deny that waste exists in some government programs, but it's time to put this particular tired old tale to rest. Repeating it just damages the credibility of the speaker.
    • Very good idea. It's not that I would mind paying the taxes at all -- I just hate where the money is going. I'm not a greedy person; if they just went around collecting a fund to improve the network's infrastructure, I'd glady donate.

      I don't see how they could tax it though...
    • I see one and only one way a tax on LANs becomes fair.

      Yeah...if they came to my house. I've been wanting to get rid of this cat 3 stuff for years.
  • Won't work... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grant29 (701796) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:15PM (#8876220) Homepage
    Nowadays home LANs are pretty common. Try to enforce it on individuals and all hell will break loose. I expect them to go after the large companies first, and when they strike it down, the home users won't worry about having to fight it.

    --
    Retail Retreat [retailretreat.com]
    • Re:Won't work... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wo1verin3 (473094) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:16PM (#8876232) Homepage
      As silly and far fetched as this sounds.... I'm sure we remember when everyone said the RIAA will never really start going after individuals.
    • Re:Won't work... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PretzelBat (770907)
      Try to enforce it on individuals and all hell will break loose.

      You mean like if a big company tried to used copyright laws to extort money from their customers?

      You mean like if the government passed a law that makes it possible for them to examine anyone's library records?

      You're right. Here in America, we are STRONG. We stand up for our rights. You can't push the average American cizizen around and get away with it. ...

      Oh, wait.
  • by hoggoth (414195) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:16PM (#8876227) Journal
    The Florida Tax Revenue office is naming this new effort 'Why your business should leave Florida' and including helpful tips on moving your business to another state that doesn't do such stupid things as tax your internal computer network.

  • by bunyip (17018) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:16PM (#8876236)
    Well, first, I was giong to suggest, "Dude, April Fool's Day was, like, 2 weeks ago", but then I read the article.

    Clearly, companies that rely on LANs will go to places that don't tax LANs. Like neighboring states, or non-neighboring states, or non-neighboring countries. I'm sure the tax assessor is not thinking of the medium to long-term consequences.

    Do they tax LANs in India? Russia? Other countries?

    Alan.
  • by MajorDick (735308) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:16PM (#8876238)
    Florida tax auditor found strangled with cat 5 . Police baffled. "Why anyone would use a network cable is beyond us stated........
  • Analysts predict Florida tax revenues will drop drastically as businesses leave the state in droves.
  • in Florida, but is it just me or is every person who calls from that state dumb as a brick?
    Any other folks in tech support notice the same thing?
    Not quite off topic, it just seems that areas which have a zip code that begin with the digit "3" have, shall we say, limited computer experience.
  • by Froze (398171) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:17PM (#8876247) Homepage
    I really hate that the system thinks it is entitled to a tax when it is not providing the infrastructure. Sure, if the government is subsidizing a system, but when a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves, what right does someone else have to came and lay claim to your efforts?

    That a tax of this nature was initiated in Florida is just one more reason why I will never willingly choose to live there.
    • a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves

      If you buy a piece of property worth 50,000 and the property taxes are 3%, you pay 1,500/year.

      Now, lets say you cut down some of the trees on your property, get them made into lumber, and build yourself a house. Maybe the property is worth 150,000 now, and your taxes went up th 4,500 a year.

      Your effort and expenditure raised your taxes. Sometimes you just get screwed.

    • by MacDork (560499) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:33PM (#8876389) Journal

      but when a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves, what right does someone else have to came[sic] and lay claim to your efforts?

      Happens all the time. Property taxes.

      • Security (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tony (765)
        Property taxes are based on the assumption that the government is the only thing standing between you and somebody else taking your property. The more property you have, the more the government protects for you, ergo, the more you pay in taxes.

        In practice, it's a bit different, of course; often property taxes are used to fund schools, which seems it should be based on the number of kids you have rather than the amount of property you own; but I don't complain, since a good education system is required for
    • According to the Wall Street Journal (which my respect for is questionable, nevertheless...) and related to me by Clark Howard [clarkhoward.com], it appears that Florida is one of the best states for a business tax-wise [clarkhoward.com].

      I don't know that I'd ever move a business to Florida, but at least it's not California or New York.

      Cheers
    • ...that and the way they make up criminal records to keep people from voting, seize cash and property without due process, and invent past-due traffic tickets to extort money from out-of-state drivers. Florida's always been pretty unclear on the Fourth Amendment. Florida and Texas both need to be kicked straight out of the Union. Or maybe they just need a good old fashioned W. T. Sherman ass-kicking. To arms, Yankee militias, to arms!
    • Tangible Tax (Score:4, Insightful)

      by taumeson (240940) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:22PM (#8876769)
      Sure, if the government is subsidizing a system, but when a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves, what right does someone else have to came and lay claim to your efforts?

      Besides having business income taxes, Florida also has a tangible tax system, which says that all business must pay taxes based on their assets. So if you have 10 computers, a router and a switch, you already have to pay taxes SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU OWN THEM.

      Florida is king of the weird taxes.
    • It's the lack of personal income tax to blame. They're expecting to fund the state off the tourists...but with the economic downturn not many people are vacationing...hence the need for "chicken" taxes...similar to the old days when the Noble used to charge taxes "just because". They're poor and have to keep inventing stuff to tax so they create taxes on phones, merchandizing fixtures, and other stuff that business primarily have so the serfs don't have to be bothered with paying their own way. It's chea
  • by DarkkOne (741046) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:19PM (#8876273) Homepage Journal
    I mean, what next, a tax for using a remote control to change channels as opposed to standing up and doing it physically? The law may be in place, but they can't honestly expect it to stay so... If it's to tax businesses who put a network in place on their own instead of using telcos, they could just define it as "between multiple sites" or something like that... anything that leaves the building, basically. *shrugs* I certainly hope common sense wins the day. If it applies to network data transfer, is it wired or wireless only? Floppys and CDs are data transfer to... how specific is the method? Bah.
    • what next, a tax for using a remote control to change channels as opposed to standing up and doing it physically?

      You don't live in the UK, do you?
    • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:49PM (#8876525) Journal
      This year's article isn't very clear on what's being taxed, but articles from last year when this silly concept was first noticed say that the tax is "9.17%", and aren't very clear on "9.17% of WHAT?"
      • 9.17% of your bits are belong to us!
      • Does this just mean an extra sales-like tax on buying LAN equipment, e.g. 9.17% on the $29 hub I bought, and maybe 9.17% of the $10 of CAT-5 cable I bought? That means that they need to go bug Radio Shack into being aware of extra taxes to collect at point of sale.
      • Some articles implied that it included taxing 9.17% on the depreciation that businesses take on their capital expenditures for equipment, or on the expenses they charge if they expense the cost. But homeowners don't do that kind of accounting, so that's 9.17% of Zero.
      • If it does cover the expense or depreciation cost of LAN equipment, does it also cover the cost of installation labor? Or just parts?
      • If you installed wiring for one purpose, and reuse it for something different, does that suddenly make it taxable or non-taxable?
      • Does the tax cover wireless equipment? Cordless phones? Cordless PBXs? Cell phones? What if the cell phone was free if you bought the service plan?
      • Isenberg's famous paper "The Stupid Network" [isen.com] advocates network architectures that are stupid in the middle and smart at the edges. Obviously a tax on "stupid networks" is a "stupid tax", and, like the lottery, this is also a real stupid tax.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @09:33PM (#8877191)
      Well, if they start taxing SneakerNet I want an extra deduction for buying new shoes every year.
  • Read the article, but didn't see if the statute was broad because it focused on "wiring" or the "networking" side.

    Would going wireless be a work-around if they kept the laws intact?
  • by trmj (579410) <tmacfarlanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:21PM (#8876282) Journal
    So they are taxing people who use network based communication systems not run my outside companies.

    On the surface, it seems like it's taxation without representation: the networks are privately built and maintained. And what do those networks run over for companies that have multiple offices? Outside phone lines, which the Gov't helped build. Ok, it can be argued that there is representation here.

    But think about it: if those lines are already running to the buildings and being used, then the taxes are already being paid on them, in the form of basic service fees.

    It seems like this law was made to make companies that run their own lines to pay taxes on them, which is taxation without representation. Now it's being applied to people who are already paying the service fees and taxes on them, and are now going to be taxed again for using said lines.

    This is going to do one of two things:
    1) Make a lot of criminals
    2) Be challenged and not stand up in court.

    Feel free to tell me I'm an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about, just back it up with reasons and facts, please.
  • They're about 15 days late mentioning this...
  • hide my "cans on string" communications network before the taxman cometh!
  • by bl4nk (607569) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:22PM (#8876302)
    Admin: Somebody set up us the tax provision.
    Admin: We get signal.
    CEO: What!
    Admin: Main screen turn on.
    CEO: It's You!!
    Florida: How are you gentlemen!!
    Florida: All your LAN are belong to us.
    Florida: You are on the way to taxation.
    CEO: What you say!!
  • Deaf people are now facing huge fines for their local communications networks. Speaking through an interpreter, Sally Johnson stated "It's unfair to consider a group of individuals exchanging communications through an established protocol a means of bypassing local phone service." Florida's Blind & Deaf Student Members group voiced their concerns about the over-reaching implications of this law. A representative of the group claimed that "Florida legislators are using the long arm of the law to reach
  • Very old stuff (Score:2, Informative)

    They have been talking about doing this in Florida for over six years. As soon as the idea hits someone with a braincell (Granted that often takes a while.) it dies each time.
  • WANs perhaps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by complexmath (449417)
    Haven't found the legal code to peruse, but I think the writer of the article has made a mistake. It sounds to me like the tax was for dedicated lines between offices rather than wires built into a single establishment. Were this not the case, PBX phone systems which are used by nearly all businesses and schools in the US would be taxed as well, and these systems have been in place forever. If my guess is correct, then individuals and most busineses would be exempt, as it's not common even today for many
  • won't happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by randyest (589159) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:26PM (#8876339) Homepage
    Even Florida isn't dumb enough to tax LANs. According to the article:

    The upper legislative chamber is expected to propose a temporary suspension of its enforcement and then look for ways to limit the provision's application without undermining its original intent.

    ...

    No one knows exactly how much more would be collected by enforcing the broader definition of the tax. The rate varies statewide, ranging from 9.17 percent to 18.07 percent depending on local option assessments.

    Stargel predicts it would be hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while some business lobbyists say it would easily exceed $1 billion.

    This is an interesting case of reasonable tax laws made dumb and potentially dangerous by advances in technology, but otherwise pretty much a non-issue that will go away quietly within a few weeks.
  • For a second there I thought this was Fark [fark.com]. I was expecting to see a Florida tag.
  • Tax a LAN? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eeyoredragon (674402) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:27PM (#8876350)
    How would you tax a home owner's LAN anyways? Set fee for owning one?? I mean, I own a wireless router, but I only have one computer hooked up. Don't tax my "LAN" please.. This is entirely stupid :-/
  • More money in a wasteful, incompetent bureacracy doesn't fix anything. My university pays a business professor I had when I took a business elective almost $86,000/year to teach CIS and she made claims like Microsoft invented OO languages and that OO means using GUI elements. Fortunately I am a computer science major and none of my profs are even remotely that bad. However she is living proof of the argument that more money = better education system.

    So here's a novel idea. Cut back the government budget, p
    • Erm...uh...how does her $86k salary show that more money = better education? Doesn't it show the exact opposite, that high salary does not equal informed teacher?

      If I had a teacher that said object orientation meant using a GUI I would have to stand up and bitch slap them. I couldn't help myself.
  • by cryptochrome (303529) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:29PM (#8876363) Journal
    I know they're a big cash cow [wired.com] for the state and all (why do you think they're so high) but now they're getting in the way of communication. Screw the state governments, they'll have to deal with the loss of revenue some other less sneaky way. Even the much-ballyhooed rural service fee is no longer justified. There are cheaper ways of communicating from the middle of nowhere than stringing copper out there. They pay less to live out in the middle of nowhere, why should the rest of us pay more to support their choice?

    Viva la VOIP!
  • by Omega Hacker (6676) <`omega' `at' `omegacs.net'> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:31PM (#8876376)
    From August 25th, 2003 [slashdot.org]
    • As someone said way up above where you apparently did not read, THAT article was about a NEW tax, this one is about enforcing an EXISTING tax.

      Your post is the dupe, not the article.
  • by Thinkit4 (745166) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:31PM (#8876379)
    While most of us are already libertarians, it is an unkown to the mainstream. On this tax day, remember the libertarian party. They were instrumental in repealing a massive tax hike here in Oregon.
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:33PM (#8876386) Journal
    How would the tax apply to a company that has internal networking? What about a PBX telephone system, would taxes be due? If not, then LANs must also be logically excluded.

    More importantly, most LANs integrate with some form of WAN, of which a relationship must exist with a telecommunications company that pays these state taxes already.

    From what I read in the article, the tax was only created to level the taxation benefit that large companies would reap from having a private phone system. Even in 1985, the year this tax was implemented, many companies had some form of internal networking to cover such devices as computers, computerized cash registers, etc. and they were not taxed.

    Doesn't make sense.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:57PM (#8876586) Homepage
      doesn't matter.. they TRIED to do this to my company in 2003, we told them to shove it in a nice way... I.E. if they dont shut up and leave, then we will be forced to DOUBLE the rates we charge florida residents and make damn sure that every resident will know the names of the people responsible...

      cince then they have done nothing with it.

      and yes, we would have pissed off lots of residents.. no I wont tell you what telecommunications company I am with....
  • People complain about corporate greed, of which there are numerous and recent examples. But on April 15th, I am once again reminded of the neverending greed of governments (Federal, State, City, County, sales, etcetera). There appears to be no problem that the government answer to the problem is more and higher taxes (aka "investments"), nor any activity that should not be taxed.

    If we actually recieved value for the tax dollars we pay, that would be one thing. But the complete ineptness of virtually every
  • by MajroMax (112652) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:36PM (#8876417)
    The article was unclear of the exact law involved here. Searching through the Florida statutes gave me this:
    202.15 [flsenate.gov] Special rule for users of substitute communications systems.--Any person who purchases, installs, rents, or leases a substitute communications system must register with the department and pay the taxes imposed or administered pursuant to s. 202.12 annually pursuant to rules prescribed by the department.
    and
    202.11 [flsenate.gov] Definitions.--As used in this chapter:
    ...
    (16) "Substitute communications system" means any telephone system, or other system capable of providing communications services, which a person purchases, installs, rents, or leases for his or her own use to provide himself or herself with services used as a substitute for any switched service or dedicated facility by which a dealer of communications services provides a communication path.

    Section 12 [flsenate.gov] says that the tax rate is 6.8% of the sales price, applied yearly.

    • by pla (258480)
      or leases for his or her own use to provide himself or herself with services used as a substitute for any switched service or dedicated facility by which a dealer of communications services provides a communication path

      If you have the right statute (I can't tell myself, even RTFA'ing didn't help much), then I see two reasons why this wouldn't apply to a LAN, only to a WAN...

      First, no "dealer of communications services provides a communication path" between my upstairs and downstrairs computers. So, no
  • by roofy (766301) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:39PM (#8876448)
    this reminds of the stamp act what are we going to dress like MCSE's and start throwing networking equipment into a nearby lake?
  • obBOFH ref (Score:3, Funny)

    by Black Jack Hyde (2374) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:49PM (#8876523)
    "Systems and Networks, this is Simon."

    "Hi. I'm having trouble accessing my files today."

    "Your username?"

    "SF3092."

    [clickety-click] "Sharon Fox, is it?"

    "That's right."

    [clickety-click rm -rf, you know the drill] "But you don't have any files!"

    "What? OMIGOD, my LAN tax proposal was in there!"

    "As if I didn't know."

    "Excuse me?"

    "I said 'I can't imagine where it could go.' Don't worry, we have it on backup."

    "Thank goodness."

    "It's engraved on a grain of rice. Bwah hahahaha!"

    "AAIIIIIIGGGGHHHHH!"

    (with apologies to Simon [ntk.net])

  • by $n1per (322712) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:50PM (#8876533)
    Taxing internal LANs will have Florida seeing what California and Silicon Valley is now, all the major corporations in their state crossing the border.
  • If they can smell a way to tax something, they will. No matter that this may stifle growth in LANs that may lead to slower growth in OTHER areas in the economy that can be taxed more productively.

    Nooooooo..... Let's add a few cents here to their coffers NOW and let us LAN people pass it on to the users as a cost of doing business. Meanwhile, the people in control of the government (and the pursestrings) will have have some MORE cash to implement their little pork-barrel projects to keep them happy and e
  • by torgosan (141603) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:10PM (#8876672) Homepage
    With a tribute {and apologies} to George Harrison:

    (If you drive a car car) I'll tax the street
    (If you try to sit sit) I'll tax your seat
    (If you get too cold cold) I'll tax the heat
    (If you take a walk walk) I'll tax your feet
    (If you push 'trons on the wire) I'll tax your LAN
    (If you push them outside)I'll tax the WAN

  • Seen this before... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Parsa (525963) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:38PM (#8876872) Homepage
    I've come across this before but I dont' remember where. I work for a State Agency in the MIS department and I asked the MIS supervisor who passed the question on up the chain.

    This article is true, but it's in the process of being changed. The wording is going to be fixed.
  • by steveha (103154) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:51PM (#8876943) Homepage
    This is exactly why I want to see government pushed as low on the stack as possible. Don't do something at the federal level if you can do it at the state level. Don't do it at the state level if you can do it at the county or city level.

    Right now we are looking at Florida doing this. If Florida is stupid enough to pull this, people and businesses in Florida at least have the option to go to a different state. Imagine if it were a Federal tax law.

    This is also a great example of why laws should be clearly written. A few years back, there was an initiative in Washington state with some vague provisions. The anti- guys pointed out that with some broad interpretation, the initiative would give some really broad powers to the government; the backers of the initiative said "Don't be silly, no one would ever interpret the law that way." Oh, really?

    Vague laws are ticking time bombs.

    steveha
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:55PM (#8876971) Journal
    I live in Tampa and read the law. This is what I found to be important:
    (3) "Communications services" means the transmission, conveyance, or routing ... The term does not include:

    (a) Information services.
    ...
    (h) Internet access service, electronic mail service, electronic bulletin board service, or similar on-line computer services.

    And

    (7) "Information service" means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, using, or making available information via communications services, including, but not limited to, electronic publishing, web-hosting service, and end-user 900 number service.

    And
    (16) "Substitute communications system" means any telephone system, or other system capable of providing communications services, which a person purchases, installs, rents, or leases for his or her own use to provide himself or herself with services used as a substitute for any switched service or dedicated facility by which a dealer of communications services provides a communication path.

    IANAL, but the way I read this, computer networks can not be "Substitute communications system" because "communications services" does not include "Information services", "Internet access service", "similar on-line computer services".

    This is just another instance of government officials not understanding the technology they are trying to tax, regulate, and legislate.

  • tax on what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdkane (588293) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @08:57PM (#8876981)
    The LAN is already paid for because the equipment has been paid for and the bits and bytes being sent around the network are being paid for through the electrical bill. There's nothing left to pay for -- and you would think it's impossible to pay for nothing -- but obviously not in today's world. And that's my opinion.
    • Re:tax on what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aziraphale (96251)
      Just how do you think taxation actually works?

      Taxes aren't about paying for the things on which they are levied. When I buy something from the store and pay sales tax, that sales tax isn't paying for the item I purchased - it's paying for the existence of the government. When I pay tax on my income, that's not paying for the provision of my services - it's paying for the government again. So, just because I paid a copmpany for some LAN equipment, and the electricity company some money for the electricity t

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