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United States

Internet Taxes Likely 111

emag writes "ZDNet is reporting that it's likely Congress will allow state & local governments to tax e-commerce, just like buying from a storefront. "
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Internet Taxes Likely

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    between ecommerce and mail order? The main difference seems to be whether you call in your credit card number or https it. Of course, the government also says that calls to ISPs are long distance phone calls, so they're equivalent :p
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Go look up the US Constitution, Section 9. It states:

    "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state."

    This arose from the original 13 colonies, which were taxing products imported from neighboring territories, as a protectionist barrier to help local businesses. It is commonly known as "restraint of interstate trade" and is illegal.

    If internet commerce is taxed, what they are REALLY doing is taxing items imported from outside the state. Internet commerce is in no way different from ordering through a mail-order catalog. If internet commerce is taxable, so is ordering from the out-of-state mail order catalogs. Mail Order catalogs have long enjoyed freedom from taxation for out-of-state sales (but not in-state sales). Internet business is not different in any way. They all have a home office, if your order is placed with a company that happens to be outside your state, it is tax-exempt, regardless of whether you purchased via internet, telephone, or snail mail.
    Go ahead and allow them to pass the law. It will stand for about 10 minutes. Just hit them with the US Constitution, Article 9.
  • by Jordy ( 440 )
    Well aren't we just slightly paranoid.

    You don't think there's a tax on import items already?

    Do you really believe that Mexico and Canada won't do the same thing? Especially Canada which mirrors half of the US's bills on encryption.

    Do you really believe that tax will kill internet business? Remember, in the US tax goes to pay for government services which help everyone out, from education to military spending. Tax is not evil, taxes keep the US running.

    Until we become a utopian society where money is a thing of the past, people like you have to understand how capitalistic societies work. If you don't like it, move to China.

    --
    The Berlin GUI Project - Building a Better Interface for Linux [berlin-consortium.org]


    --
  • by mAIsE ( 548 )
    Most americans are paying over half of there income in different taxes. I dont feel sorry for the US senators that spend more than they are given they need to learn how to BUDGET not invent new taxes.
  • by mAIsE ( 548 )
    All I am saying the less tax a buisness pays the more it will make the more customers it will have the more it speeds the economy. I agree that our country need tax to survive. I dont agree everything time you goto the bathroom you should be taxed on flushing the toilet. If you want to be fair the only tax should be a flat income tax so everyone paid the same no matter. Our buisnessmen and women will be at yet another disadvantage becauses of BIG brother SAM, i mean uncle sam. Remember taxation without representation ? What senator understands half of what is going on in the technology sector ? The IT industry is getting blind sided by a government that is scared of it. Ignorance should no longer be an excused or a justification. Thats all im trying to say.
  • your ABSOLUTELY right !!
  • Posted by Rafeboi:

    While I can see the point Virtua made about conventional Big Blue Room shopkeepers potentially being disadvantaged by the lack of Internet taxation, they miss one really big point:

    Many 'net vendors are 'net-only, with no IRL presence, just a URL one. Competitive advantage? Nil. Merely a stratification of consumer, online v. old-fashioned. There is -no way- (insufficient emphasis) that real-world stores will all fail in any of our lifetimes as a result of the 'net's presence. Too many technophobes out there who cannot or will not shop online, regardless.

    The less the government (especially that of the US) gets in the way of the future, the better we all are.

    NOTE: If all the politicians and elected officials in this country vanished tomorrow, I'd be the last one to shed a tear. They can all get packed into DOS 4.0 boxen and dumped over Antarctica for all I care, so this is SOP for me to say, "F U, Big Brother."

    -Subucni
  • Posted by Stan Krute:

    Sales taxes are a particularly
    nasty form of theft, due to their
    economically-regressive design.

    Keep 'em off the net.

  • If it were just a very simple law that said, "Sales over the internet shall be governed by the same tax laws as sales by phone or snail-mail.", then I'd not object. Then they'd be treating the 'net the same as any other medium.

    What pisses me off is when they assume the 'net somehow deserves stricter or heaver laws than the real-life world. That's quite a luddite attitude. It's the same as the crap they pulled (are pulling) with the CDA 1 and 2. - Something shouldn't be *more* illegal just becasue the internet was involved.

  • Libertarians are nuts. Government can be evil, but government is a *nessacery* evil. Lasse-faire is impossible, because in the case of natural monopolies, some corporation would have exclusive control instead of a government - it would be even worse. You will always be governed, like it or not. It's just a question of whether it will be by the State or by private thugs. Private ownership of *everything* is insane. I do not want to pay a fscking toll on every single road, and have thousands of phone companies trying to lay their own cables all over the place, never being forced to lease them to each other (as the current regulations dictate), so that there are wires everywhere across the country. And I sure as hell don't want to see a private police force. Some libertarians are okay, but just like the big-2 parties, the moderate ones are the ones that are okay, and the pureists are the ones that are dangerous.
  • The reason it is impossible to not have a government is that government is such a generic term that any sort of organization of any kind that makes rules over people is a government.

    The only way to not have a government is to have anarchy. Anarchy is not a permanent condition. (Things don't remain in anarchy for long - a government always forms up in one form or another. Even a local bully pushing people around counts as a government, albiet a small one.)

  • The problem is that this system would lead to a snowballing effect where the poor can't get out of poverty even with a lot of effort. We already see this effect with schools. Schools are paid for by local property taxes, so if the locals are poor, own bad land (if any at all), then their schools get very little money, which in turn makes the next generation even more likely to be poor (with the crappy education they had, high paying careers are not likely).

    One thing Republicans and Libertarians forget is that only some unemployment is caused by laziness. A certain percentage of unemployment is a necessary component of capitalism. (If there is no unemployment, then there is no pool of people looking for work, thus business can't hire anyone. There always need to be a small percentage of potential workers 'in reserve'.)

    (No, I'm no Democrat in case you're wondering. I'm just someone who's sick and tired of the unthinking rhetoric that every single political party spews forth every day.)

  • You don't think there's a tax on import items already?

    Yeah, but they can't tax a business in another country directly, only on their export of goods, AFAIK.

    Do you really believe that tax will kill internet business? Remember, in the US tax goes to pay for government services which help everyone out, from education to military spending. Tax is not evil, taxes keep the US running.

    Remove brain from head, wash thoroghly with government propaganda.

    You have to be kidding. This is the same govt. that spent $5 million a year studying varying brands of ketchup?

    Yes, you know, red, made of tomatoes...

    Until we become a utopian society where money is a thing of the past, people like you have to understand how capitalistic societies work. If you don't like it, move to China.

    Understanding it and liking it are two different things. I don't see how the first poster misunderstood it at all, he just stated that it's probably going to kill a lot of US internet companies. He's probably right.

    -Erik-
  • So, yes to Internet taxes, if it means that other taxes will go down, because it is a fair tax.

    Not likely. Taxes rarely go down.

    And no, it's not fair.

    Here in the US we get taxed on our taxes. We pay taxes on our income, and then turn around and get taxed again when we spend THE SAME MONEY THAT'S ALREADY BEEN TAXED. Whether this is legal or not is a subject of some debate, but it's certainly _wrong_. Anyone with one eye and half a brain can see that, if they're honest. But we put up with it.

    Why do we put up with it?

    The sad thing is, most of the world is just as bad or worse than the US.

    TedC

  • Please note that it was a Republican in the article.

    Yes, I did notice. I have found it most humorous that your comment is the first I've seen that has mentioned the political party, either here on /. or on ZDnet.

    Imagine if it had been a *democrat* that has said that!

    Personally, I think democrats are mostly "tax and spend", while republicans are "borrow and spend", the latter being slightly worse 'cause you have to pay interest and it costs future generations.

    Last year, the politicians in Washington (on both sides of the isle) claim the federal goverment has a $69billion surplus. In fact, if you take out the "surplus" that is going into the Social Security "trust fund", there was really a $29billion deficit. If you take into account all the other borrowing that goverment did, there was a $113billion deficit.

    See The Concord Coalition [www.concordcoalition] for more details.

  • You can bet that a Libertarian government wouldn't be talking about more taxes....
    -russ
  • Spelling is a necessary evil.
    -russ
    p.s. people used to think that religion was necessarily a subject for governmental control. Same thing for communication. *Your* failure of imagination is no constraint on reality.
  • The government (note: the government) of Virginia required someone to put up a bond when freeing his slaves, to ensure that the slaves would not become a ward of the state. Jefferson, not being the idiot you think he was, was quite aware of the contradictions of his ownership of slaves, but simply couldn't afford to free them.

    As for Jefferson boning his female slaves, the genetic evidence merely shows that a male in the Jefferson family passed on his genes. It could quite easily have been Jefferson's nephew, who was known to spend weeks at a time when visiting.
    -russ
    p.s. facts are such ugly things, aren't they?

  • Less Government, Less Taxes ( bullshit ).

    Please note that it was a Republican in the article.

    The problem they see, I bet, is if they can't the fscking economy ( i.e. the High Tech investing that is driving up the NASDAC and the DOW ) to slow down they will lose another election.

    Well, screw them.



  • But I guess not.

    I will look into that site though!


  • Sometimes the government gets it right, albeit seldomly so. Remember, someone paid all those wonderfully creative people to create the Internet. Hmm. No one benefits from that, right?
    So, the government created a new market, and should probably get a chance to make tax money too, as frustrating as that may seem. The thing to do is to make certain that the revenue is reinvested in the network, not just put in the general coffer, similar to the unversal service money on the phone bill.

    One might compare taxing of the internet to federal subsidies for tobacco farmers, which help big companies produce a great product cheaply (cigarettes) which gets taxed by federal, state and local governments.

    In a few years, and class action suits start taking on ISP's for sending illegal porn via usenet to children (or some such nonsense), great sums of money will be had for the trail lawyers just like with tobacco industry.

    I love over regulated industry. BTW, I work for the Federal Reserve Bank, the company that suggests the Know Your Customer policy in which private banks are to profile their customers transactions and report any strangeness to them as a way of preventing money laundering. Yes. Big brother is coming. . . This rule is still pending review, but I am ashamed to be a part of the organization that drafted it.

  • Sales taxes mostly go to provide roads and parking for motorists to get to brick and mortar stores. For people who don't drive (or use Muni much, and bike to work), they're a ripoff, which is why UPS is delivering a dishwasher to my place in SF at this very moment.

    SF Parking authority, kiss my a$$.




  • There's a clue stick for you.

    I believe sales taxes are already paid on most ISP service (I can't verify this. My access comes through the University, where the tac is tuition). How do you plan on tracking email messages for tax purposes anyway. A port 25 tax? We'll just have to move SMTP to another port.
  • by dynamo ( 6127 )
    Actually, taxes ARE evil.

    It is wrong for a government to hold a gun to my head (or a jail sentence, same thing) and say "pay up". If I don't want to pay for a federal service, I should lose my right to benefit from it, but I should not have to.

    I believe governments should be profitable. If government provides a necessary service, people will be willing to pay for those services on a more granulated scale, eh? If not, fuck it - we don't need it anyway.

  • Taxing Internet commerce will be fairer overall, be extremely efficient (since it is, by necessity, automated!), and allow lowering of other taxes. I mean, the
    government has to collect as much money as it needs anyway, and it is not as if the Internet needs tax breaks in order to grow.



    The government is already getting far more than it needs. and I am not seeing any lowering of other taxes. Don't hold your breath, it ain't gonna happen. The government is a glutonous monolith absorbing rights and power from citizens of all types, one group at a time. It can't afford to ever lower taxes long term at it's current rate.


    the only question is - where is critical mass - how much are americans going to put up with ?
  • The idea of internet taxiation would be okay, if it is implemented correctly. I can understand why it is wanted. The government looses money that would normally be going towards state income tax.

    I just hope I don't get a 5% state tax, 5% internet tax, 10% microsoft tax, and a 5% tax because I wear a size 11 shoe.

    ---
  • How is a seller supposed to know where the buyer is?

    I think the shipping address might give them a pretty big clue...

  • How can you bet that a libertarian government wouldn't do the exact same shit? Every party that has gotten into power talks one story and acts another...until we have a whole load of libertarians in office don't you dare go around spouting how much different it would be.

    -----

    So doing *NOTHING* is better??? How long shall the Ammerican people stand by and let the government trample them??? I agree, there is a chance the Libertarians will do the SAME things as the big 2. However, that is not a reason not to vote for them. The alternative, IMO, is to NOT VOTE! The other 2 both suck. The message THAT sends to polititions is that we are HAPPY with the way things are going!!!! We need to stand up and DEMAND CHANGE. We need to vote thier fat asses OUT if they don't do what we say, and NOW. Voting Libertarian sends a message, that we don't want the government meddling in our lives. And that we WILL vote them out (FIRE THEM) if they don't do what we want to vote how we tell them to.

    Right now, like every monopoly, they don't give a shit because THEY DON'T HAVE TO. YOU WILL KEEP TAKING IT IN THE ASS, SO WHY NOT KEEP PUSHING!?!?!
  • For one, I allready have to pay for garbage collection. It's about $15/month to a private company. They provide the big plastic things to put the trash in, and drive arround and pick it up. Easy, and worth it, IMO.

    Note that the LP (Libertarian Party) believes that the government's place is to protect life and property. They believe the government should have both a police force, as well as a military force. However, our military should not be running arround the planet interfering with other countries. We are not the worlds' police force. The police and defence would be paid for by tarrifs and service fees. Sort of like taxes I suppose, but your money goes to a specific service, not to the general fund that they can do anything they want with. It's very specific, and you can tell what they are doing, full disclosure.

    And yes, if you don't own a car you shouldn't have to pay for the roads. If you want to ride the train, for example, the train fares you pay go toward maintaining the tracks and the trains themselves. If you drive a car, you allready pay property taxes on the car. I would think that a good soultion for the roads is to charge you a "road maintance fee" instead. As I said, it's basicly the same as a tax, but you only pay if you use the service and the money goes only to certain things. The DMV arround here probably collects billions in property taxes and Driver Licence fees. That should support the roads reasonably well.

    Basicly, the government should provide services and charge for them like a business. What do you think taxes are? It's just that you can't see where taxes are going, and they always seem to go up with no benefit to me. In a fee-for-service structure, you know exactly what you are paying for.

    If the government had to live within it's means and charge a fair fee for it's services we would all be better off. If the people won't pay for a service, we don't need it. This gives the power to the people, where it belongs.

    It should be noted that I do not speak for the LP. I've just been researching them since I couldn't find anyone to vote *FOR*. The big 2 parties both suck, and I was looking for someone. The way I see it, not voting just tells them we want more of the same. Voting for the LP tells them I want my freedom. In any case, voting for any other party tells them I am not happy, which I want to do. I want the Republicrats to know I am not happy at all with the way they are handling things.

    Do a little research before dismissing them as a group. You may be surprised, if you're willing to be open minded and logical about it. Compare the pros and cons and make up your own mind. The message you posted was just regurgitated drivel from the Republicrats, THINK!

    For a good place to get info on the LP platform head over to LP Home [lp.org].
  • The problem with your supposition is that the USA got by just fine for about 100 years without taxes. This, durring the industrial revolution. We led the way in pretty much every area of technology and innovation. Now, there is so much government interfernece and taxation that we are starting to fall behind. The Asian market crash is the only reason we still have the lead. Winning, and being lost too, are different.

    It all comes down to if you think the government can do a better job of managing your money then you can. If they can make your life better then you can. I know, from experience, that they can't. If I did not have about $800/month STOLEN from me, I'd be quite well off, have no debt, and be in a nice home. Instead, I'm working my way out of debt SLOWLY, and renting a room. Yes, it's my fault I'm there, but I don't expect anyone to just hand me the money to get out, and I don't see the government looking to hand me MY money to pay for it with. Oh, and did I mention that the $800/month I pay to the government WAS NOT ENOUGH??? I still owe about $600 MORE!!!! This is causing me to be forced to live a lifestyle I do not enjoy. If I had all the money that is being stolen from me in my bank account, I would be much better off.

    It's called PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. And it's a premise that this country was built on. I don't know jack about Canadian history, so I won't comment on them. But here we created a country based on freedom and personal responsibility. And I, for one, would preffer it went back to that.

    Any way you slice it, taxation is wealth redistribution. The government is attempting to play at Robin Hood. And doing a poor job of it I might add.

    If you like the way they do things in Canada, I wish you the best. Enjoy it. I preffer the way our founding fathers designed this country and would like it to return to its previous way of doing things. What we have now causes more problems then it solves.

    Travis
  • Sob story? Look who's talking! "We were treated like shit because we were immigrants from India" Yeah yeah...

    BTW: Using a personal example isn't a sob story, it's a statement of supporting evidence from real life.

    Again, you say government costs money, I provided alternate sources of revenue for a government and you get out a flamethrower. Are you capable of holding an inteligent conversation? Or is everyone that doesn't subscribe to your viewpoint without comment sick and wrong?

    Yes, there were problems with the industrial revolution. There are problems with ANY change. There are also problems with just leaving things the way they are and ignoring the problem.

    And the slaves were used for a number of things. Which is a moot point anyway as slavery was outlawed shortly afterward and still is.

    There were a number of contributing causes to the great depression, it's niave to say that one thing alone could cause something so sweeping.

    The economy is a measure of how people are doing. If there are no customers spending money, just how healthy do you think an enocomy can be? If the government is stealing our money, we have less to spend on other things. Thus lowering the overall health of the economy at large. It's simple cause and effect relationship.

    Who is talking about buzzwords here, hmmmm? You're flaming about and playing the slavery card. As if profanity makes a better argument. In this last message you prove you have no clue. Go do some research and come back with inteligent arguments or go away. I won't respond to another message like the last one, as there is no point. If your entire argument rests on swearing and the contents of the first message, you have proven that you don't know what you're talking about and like to ignore factual evidence.

    Travis
  • There we go. That's accually a good example.

    I have to admit I'm not as familiar as I should be with the situation there. I think the basis of the problem with them is that they export everything. It all goes to other countries where people can afford the products. So here in the US and Canada we see those great shoes or whatever. Of course, they could be made domesticly, but it would cost more so the big companies exploit the Asian people to raise thier bottom line. It's easy to get what passes for a good "economy" in a situation like that. There is money flowing in and out of the country, so they declare it a good economy. But with all of the products being exported, they can't be used to raise the quality of life for those people. And the only people making real money are the people who hold the contracts with the companies elsewhere. The ones exploiting the workers. This is a regretable situation. It seems to me to have many parallels to the situation with the industrial revolution here in the US. Many workers were exploited to make the rich richer. I think I see what you're getting at here, but there is recourse available to people, and the way things are here in the present I can't see anyone getting away with something like that, even if the laws against it were removed. We are quite sensitive to things like that now, and would organize boycotts and such.. I don't feel that the laws regarding such things should be removed, but perhaps rewriten a bit. I would need more research on the topic to discuss that.

    I think that the attitude that the economy is good while the people suffered could have contributed to the Asian market crash. As well as the great depression here in the US. At some point the money will stop flowing because there are not enough end customers to keep it self-sustaining. At that point the economy will crash.

    I think the problem is how "economy" is defined. It seems to currently be used to discuss how much companies are making, rather then the health of the society. Durring the downsizing period you mention the profit margins of companies went up. Thus they term it a good economy. I have to agree with you in that it seems silly to do that. I think more needs to be considered to guage the economic health of a country.

    What, exactly, do you "get back" in Canada? As I said, I'm not very familiar with the way things are done up north. Are we talking about government programs designed to help people with things? Such as housing, schooling, medical care, etc.?

    It could be that your government accually makes good use of the funds it collects and has decent programs to help the people. But in the US I can bet most anyone will tell you it's not that way here. And not because they don't have money available to do it, because they are very wastefull and don't have the slightest idea what's going on arround them. What happens here is very simple, those of us in the "middle class" pay all the taxes, while the poor get dependant on handouts and the rich hide behined all thier tax shelters that the middle class can't afford.

    The poor people on government programs can't afford to try to get a job and make life better for themselves because the government has it set up in such a way that the day they get a job they are off any kind of assistance. I believe it should cut off, but at least give them a chance to get a paycheck. This happened to someone I know. This creates a cycle of dependancy that is tough to break.

    Most people I speak with in the US feel that the government corruption is so bad that it is literally "he who has the gold, makes the rules". The rich lobby the government and give "campaign contributions" (I call them bribes). And oh, look, the laws that get passed benefit the rich somehow.

    This is the primary reason we have a problem in the US, IMO. The government was supposed to be, "By the People, For the People". That means ALL the people. And it's not.

    This is why I presently subscribe the the Libertarian Party viewpoint. I think we need to move toward that direction. All the way there? Maybe not, nobody is always right, but it's a place to start. What choice to we have? Both the Democrats and the Republicans have made it worse, and put us in this situation to begin with. They have been given many, many chances to fix it, and always say they will, only to get back into office and give us more of the same. When groups start organizing and getting ready to go to war with the government, there is a problem. The militia movement in the US demonstrates this. The government still fails to get the message.

    Remember, we have multipule parties to balance each other out. With the Democrats and the Republicans both much the same now, we need something else. It's no wonder to me that the vast majority of us in the US don't vote. We have had nobody to vote FOR! But to not vote just tells them we want more of the same, it no longer sends a statement other then that.

    While an assumption behined capitalism is that a better economy means a healtier society, it is a proven FACT that socialisim doesn't work and only makes life worse for the masses then capitalism. You end up with fewer rich people at the top of the chain and far more people in a far worse situation then our poor people here in the US have to deal with in most cases. Not to mention no hope of ever getting a chance to make a better life for yourself. At least in the US you could start in the mailroom and become an executive in 20 years. I'll be the first to say it doesn't happen often anymore with the huge turnover rates I see arround me, but it can, and has happened.

    Those are, of course, the two extremes. There is a large grey area in the middle where most every country now resides. Perhaps Canada has found a good balance. I don't know, I've never lived there. Or perhaps Ammericans just have different expectations. Keep in mind that this country exists because the colonists were sick of TAXES. And we pay far more in taxes then they did.

    We're getting a bit far-flung for a SlashDot discussion, reply to Email if you want. We're allready way off topic.

    Travis
  • I try often to think about the philosophy of taxation everytime I start to complain about a tax. I feel the government should be collecting taxes for transactions(i.e. sales, income, etc) for which it has given service to the participants in the transaction. For example, if I own a brick-and-mortar store I receive certain inherent government services(like police protection, fire department(assuming it is not volunteer), maintenance of public roads for my customers to get to me, etc). Therefore as a store owner I do not mind paying taxes to the government, as I am receiving services from them. As a consumer going into the store to purchase items I also receive inherent government services(again police protection for when I leave with my purchase, maybe even the FBI/police for investigating merchants that committ fraud against consumers, etc). I don't mind paying for these services because they are beneficial. Now when we move business transactions to the Internet some things change. The government provides less service to both the merchant and consumer than if the transaction happened in physical space. However there are still services provided so taxation on that basis seems fair.

    Now if all of my tax money went to just pay for the services that I received from the government I think we would all be content. However, local, state,and federal budgets do not reflect this fact. Sales taxes, that consumers pay, and other taxes, that merchants pay, are used to fund other government programs. Here is where I object to the use of the taxes paid.

    Taxes will never go away, it seems. But in theory, our governments(federal, state, and local) should be using technology just like the rest of us to increase efficiency and reduce the need for the numerous people they employ. If a company can lower the prices on its goods and services based on increased efficiency then the government should be able to do the same.


    Stuart Eichert
    U. of PENN student/FreeBSD hacker
  • E-commerce taxes are perfectly legitimate. The only hurdle is that Congress should decide whether merchants should collect taxes for their state, or the state of the buyer.
  • Problem is, the Supreme Court has always interpreted Sec 9 as referring to the States, NOT the Federal Gov't. So, that leaves it wide open for a US-wide sales tax on e-commerce. There is also wide dispute over the exact meaning, so it is by no means likely that any e-sales-tax is unconstitutional.

    Also, mail-order has never been exempt from sales tax. The reason you don't really see taxation on out-of-state sales is: (A) the mail-order retailers have an extremely vocal and organized trade organization that screams every time someone brings up the subject (B) up till now, the states have generally conceded that tracking all the sales and distributing the tax would be "too hard" (this is generally bogus, but it's a convenient lie to get out of the fact that they cave to (A))

    In reality, when you buy an article through mail-order, you owe YOUR state's sales tax to YOUR state.

    Basically, if the state can show that it's not discriminating against other states, then it bypasses Sec 9. So, if a state taxes ALL ecommerce by it's citizens at a flat rate, well, it should withstand any court challenge.

    -Erik

  • Knew this was gonna happen. I just wish:

    • They'd pick a single, flat rate instead of going with the mishmash of state sales tax we have to deal with.
    • Use part of the revenue stream to benefit the internet (like, maybe funding a domain-dispute resolution arbiter :-)
    • Don't go anywhere near connection fees.

    This should get interesting. I'm assuming that they're going to try to start enforcing sales tax on mail-order too. If they don't - wait for some internet company to sue. If they do, wait for the mail-order giants to start lobbying congress for exemptions to both. Should be one right big mess!

    -Erik

  • Ok, I'm gonna go fucking psycho now. This whole anti-tax thing about, "I should not be taxed and all my money should be my own and no-one should mess with it" is completely hypocratic. You dont realize one fucking iota of government and organization works, and go shooting your mouth off.

    Taxes are necessary. THey are not evil. If you dont have taxes, you dont live in a nice society where you are protected from bad people and where it is made sure that you dont starve. Slashdot has a disproportionately high number of libertarian freaks. Lemme tell you libert. kids about your messed up ideas - IT WONT WORK. Not only is it impractical, it is completely selfish, bigoted, and immoral. How the fuck can you expect people to pay ONLY FOR THEIR OWN STUFF? I can show you a little example by analogy: Canada V. THe United States. THE US is more libertarian than Canada - lets work from there.

    In Canada, people go to work at 9:00 and come home at 5:00. They pay high taxes (Very high), but the majority of people's living standard is high. In Canada, the average family can hope to send their kids to a good school without being in debt for the rest of their lives. I know this because I have lived in the US for 9 years and have Just moved to canada. In the US, my parents and I would have had to pretty much pay off my university debts for the rest of out lives. ONLY after we came to canada were we able to afford a house, and a decent life. Being immigrants from India, the US treated us like SHIT. My dad, who went to college for no money because of his academic skill, and who worked from 9:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night every day, earned $24000 a year, just about enough for us to rent a crappy apartment and get through 1 year. Can you believe that shit? In Canada, we get taxed about 3 times as much - but our lifestyle is twice as good. Explain that. Your annoying freakish libertarian arguments are BULLSHIT. I have no great love for canada - it's not the cream of the crop by any means - and yes the US has some good things about it too. But the crazy notion that an individual has absolutely no obligation to the rest of mankind is completely selfish and fascist. I dont
    mind more taxes, if it helps run government. I didnt like paying taxes in the US however, because it went more toward funding private companies than it did to helping people.

    If the libertarian party ever wins the majority vote, I swear the US will have withing it a 3rd world nation, and a elite-nation - much like 1984's proles and the civil workers - except it wont be the government, it'll be the capitalists and the labourers. Read "The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat" if you want to get an Idea of what a libertarian society will be like.

    This is not a flame, I just wanted to get my views out on this horrible horrible "libertarian" idea.


    -Laxative
  • Give me a break with your sob story. Do you know it actually costs money to run a government? It's not free, people dont volunteer.

    You mention the industrial revolution. Sure the industrial revolution was great, but there were a LOT of things about it that sucked. LIKE:\

    the black slaves in the south used to supply the
    textiles with raw material so the industrial revolution could happen

    the exploitation of millions of workers and farmers by large businesses.

    THe cause of the great depression

    What the hell does an "economy" matter if the people arent taken care of. What is this god "economy" we must all pay homage to? You think you can just say that one word and expect everyone to say "OH, JEEZ, guess you are right, because it affects the economy". An economy does not matter SHIT if the people in that economy are treated like crap. Indonesia had a fucking good economy the last 20 or so years.. you think it's worth a lot? Where do you draw the line between an economy and working in a sweatshop for $100+ shoes from Nike??? Buzzwords do not make good arguments.

    -Laxative
  • Ok. I'll make a calm rational agument:

    Take a look at the wonderful south-east asian tigers, which the U.S. just LOVES, despite that tricky little problem of dictators. Take your pick: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand. The economies there, until recently, were skyrocketing. Do you think it reflected on the living status of the people? What happened after so many years of a skyrocketing economy in south-east asia?? crash - call it Asia's black tuesday. Where are the people of south-east asia now after so many years of such a good fucking economy? They're starving and working in sweatshops. This panacea you call "a better economy" seems only to work for the rich - what a pity.

    Lets take an example closer to home. In the US, the days of the highest economic growth was when the most companies were downsizing the fastest (as in early '90s). Isnt that ironic? The most people are losing their job, but the economy is doing great!

    There is only one thing that a "good" economy veritably does: it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

    Sorry for calling your personal example a sob story by the way.. coffee is just wearing off.

    I'll use my personal example. I moved to canada 6 months ago. Even though the economy here is not as good as the economy in the US, it is a better place to live. You pay a lot to the government, but you also get a lot back. Everyone gets a lot back. Canadian society is healthier than US society. A good economy does not mean anything if the people dont do well. The original assumption behind capitalism was that a better economy means a healthier society. This is simply not true.

    -Laxative
  • Right now, brick-and-mortar shopkeepers are disadvantaged compared to their online counterparts, and taxation is uneven: the technologically-savvy can avoid taxes buy trading on the Net.

    Taxing Internet commerce will be fairer overall, be extremely efficient (since it is, by necessity, automated!), and allow lowering of other taxes. I mean, the government has to collect as much money as it needs anyway, and it is not as if the Internet needs tax breaks in order to grow.

    So, yes to Internet taxes, if it means that other taxes will go down, because it is a fair tax.
  • this is why we need techies in congress. LINUX techies. does anyone else feel like they're not being adequately represented by their local mudslinger? anyway, despite the fact that taxing 'e-commerce' (to use the buzzword) is fair if done properly, this still sucks, because it would mean that i would have to pay more for all my cool geek junk. and isn't that really all that counts? :P
  • A sales tax is a regressive tax, anyway, since it hits the poor (who have to buy stuff like food, etc.) more than it hits the rich (who are only taxed on the money they spend, rather than invest). Plus, you have to pay shipping on your Internet goods. Mostly, it's going to be nightmarish for people who trade on the Internet to deal with the 8 bajillion different state and local taxes out there. Do we make consumers responsible for paying sales tax to the local authorities or are the businesses required to keep track of this stuff?
  • I don't understand the legal distinction, but a state will apply a "sales tax" to intrastate commerce and a "use tax" to interstate commerce. The purchaser is supposed to pay a use tax to his home state if he buys something from another state. I've heard of some states going after residents who buy big-ticket items like cars and boats in neighboring states.
  • I could live with Internet sales being treated the same as mail or phone sales. I would oppose any taxes being targeted specifically at the Internet.

    Scanning through some recent bills, I found a large number of taxes and "fees" on my cable TV and telephone bills.

    Telephone:

    911 Fee
    Universal Service Fee
    Gross Receipts Tax Surcharge
    Federal Tax
    Federal Subscriber Line Charge

    CATV:

    Franchise Fee
    FCC Regulatory Fee
    State PPV Tax

    I especially like the federal "temporary" excise tax on telephone service that was supposed to help pay for the war in Vietnam. It is still there.

    The federal, state and county governments all have their hand out and want a cut of the action.

  • I would give customers the option - "We can ring up your purchase, plus the 8.75% California and SF sales taxes, OR, you can punch in your item number at that Internet terminal and not pay sales tax."

    Obviously, this is a big loophole, and in f*ed up states like California where localities rely on sales taxes for most of their funding, it would be a big problem for those of us who like paved streets and sewer systems.

    --
  • Yea. Here in the UK I get taxed on 25% of the fisrt 19K of income, the 40% on the rest above that. Then if I buy a new car with whats left, I pay
    1) The cost of the car
    2) A new car tax (5% i think)
    3) VAT (Sales tax) at` 17.5% on 1 AND 2
    Then when I fill it with petrol I pay 400% tax on the fuel.

    To use the favorite phrase, Govenment SUX.

  • I don't really understand this. Here in the UK, companies are taxed (VAT) based on sales. Why does it matted WHO your selling to ? You take the money, you should be taxed on that sale. Or does the purchaser pay the sales tax ? That seems a little bizarre.
    Anyway, I think that there should be no distinction between orders taken by 'phone and those taken on the Internet. Definitely no extra taxes...
  • Bwahahahaha! Since when has our government followed the constitution?? It is just a decorative piece of paper to them!
  • We are probably still paying for Vietnam... you know, with the national debt and all. Although I guess most of that is from Reagan.
  • Well aren't we just slightly paranoid.

    Its not paranoia, you really ARE out to get me.
    --
    Paranoid
  • Remember, someone paid all those wonderfully creative people to create the Internet.

    I thought Gore created it for purely humanitarian reasons.

    --
    Paranoid
  • They are organized, or could if not already, as 501(c)3 nonprofits under the education class.

    and whats to keep www.gayhorseporn.com from doing the same thing? These people can easily (and probably already have) set up mailbouncers from shell accounts anywhere around the world. I think the proliferation of mp3/warez sites on the 'net should show something: if sites like that can stay up (and they do more... they actually thrive), counting every single port-25 tcp/ip connection would be totally impossible.

    Don't get me wrong, I hate spammers and I'd love it if it would work, but I don't think it would. :)
    --
    Paranoid
  • Right now, sales tax is only paid for mail order if the buyer lives in the same state as whoever is selling. That's how this tax should work, too.

    BTW, what the hell is "e-commerce"? It's just like mail order... why come up with some silly name?
  • by Zebulun ( 14800 )
    its not going to happen.
    afaik, legislation has been in place for
    quite a while that require online stores to
    tax interstate sales, but it requires that the
    seller voluntarly report the income and pay
    the taxes.

    Also, this is unrealistic in a global market.
    How is a seller supposed to know where the buyer
    is? Who is he supposed to pay the sales tax to
    and whose going to regulate and police it. While
    the FBI and CIA are crying like babies that 40bit
    encryption is too hard and that hackers are taking
    over satellites, the power seems to be in the
    hands of the people.

    Same reason the CDA and CDA II failed. Internet
    is not a US only network and locations are in
    IPs, not addresses and zip codes.

    -Z
  • A sales tax is a regressive tax, anyway, since it hits the poor (who have to buy stuff like food, etc.) more than it hits the rich (who are only taxed on the money they spend, rather than invest).

    In some states, food and clothing are exempt from sales taxes; presumably this is to reduce the sales-tax burden on the poor.

  • Actually, the excise fee was started during World War 2. The goverment needed money, and phones were (at the time) untaxed. Later they realized that nobody noticed the tax, and it has been there ever since.

    Isn't our goverment great?
  • @$%!&*#@! $70 for airborne express on a G3, or $50 for UPS groundtrak across the country. the reason why most net stores have reduced prices is because they _know_ we have to pay shipping (and taxes in some cases), and they only way they can keep an edge on brick & mortar retail is keeping their prices down! Guv'mint diots!
  • There is a big difference between a sales tax and shipping costs, because sales taxes are artificial while shipping costs are real. Shipping costs reflect something real. Your item actually should cost that much more because it has to be shipped and thus costs more in the end (production + sales + delivery). Sales taxes, on the other hand, are artificial. Just because the government slaps on a tax does not mean the real cost should be higher. Think of it this way. Suppose there were no sales taxes and ecommerce people were at a disadvantage because they had to ship things. Would you support putting a tax on the nonecommerce people so the ecommerce people could compete better? No, that would be stupid. If they can't compete on a level playing ground, they should go bankrupt. I hope this explains things.
  • I will explain this for the third time now. Imagine that there is no sales tax anywhere. Thus, the internet places have to charge a LOT less because they have shipping on top of not being able to provide a good immediately (unlike a retail store). Would it be fair, do you think, to put a tax on the local stores so that the internet stores could compete better? No, that doesn't make any sense. Shipping is a real cost that actually represents someone having to do more work. Sales taxes do not. They represent the government getting funds. They are very different things. Sure, I like being able to buy things off of the internet for cheap, but this can't go on. It really is unfair.
  • A $.01 tax on an email message would never affect a worthwhile spammer.

    I know someone who SPAMs professionally. He literally makes hundreds of thousands of dollars PER DAY! Last I heard he makes approx. $20 per email he sends. What would one cent do to twenty dollars? It defiantly wouldn't put him out of business.

    If there weren't so many credulous AOL'ers out there, we wouldn't have this problem.

    Well... There's my 2 cents. Can I have my change please?!

    ~PanIc~
  • The often listed excuse that non-taxation of internet commerce puts physical retailers at a disadvantage is not true, IMHO. The main reason being, whereas physical retailers have to add sales tax to their sales, I've found that the shipping charges incurred on internet (Or mail order, for that matter) purchases usually are equal to, if not greater than the sales tax that would have been incurred if I'd purchased the item locally. Obviously, for high price, small physical size items this would quickly be reversed, but for low price, large physical size items (I.E. Computer cases) you can quickly end up paying more for the shipping than the item. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it all evens out in the end as it stands now, and if i-commerce is taxed, that will remove one of it's main benefits. Ack! I've rambled pretty bad now, haven't I? I'll shut up now. =)
  • Nothing makes me think I alone should be exempt from taxation (Although it would be nice. =) My point was that I'm sick of the defense of internet taxation that the lack of it puts physical retailers at a disatvantage. And yes, the warehouses consume resources in the community that they are in, they also employ people who pay taxes, they pay property taxes, etc.
  • As a previous poster mentioned, this particular Congressman is (unfortunately) one of the more powerful corporate milk-fed political mouths, one that is probably deserving of an early end to his political ambitions.

    Unfortunately, I do not live in Louisana, or have any family/friends, etc. who I could call up and have a little influence on. So all I can do is join in this rant, and hope the web makes enough noise to let Tauzin know that he's way off base on this one.

    Perhaps we can really use the /. effect in a major way on this: go to the House of Representative's [house.gov] email response page and bring the sucker to it's knees with his name plastered all over it.

    Ought to make him real unpopular with 434 other representatives, don't you think?

  • Last I checked.. the Internet was a loosly held, privately run cooperative.. how in the hell does the government even have -jurisdiction- to tax something like that in this fashion? If I run a mail-order company, my remote customers do not have to pay sales tax.. but if I advertise and take orders on the net.. I do?

    (Before the correctness folks yell, yes.. I am aware of the subtleties of interstate commerce. I am being brief on purpose. Other have already expressed views about import/export vagaries)

    No...no... this stinks of big money lobbying to me..nobody's constituents want something like this. I would bet that some big money is moving behind this scene. Somebody doesn't like the Dells of the world..

    ---
  • The seller is responsible to pay sales tax, and, (I believe) sales tax can only be collected if the buyer receives the product in the state.

  • The result of this is a no-brainer to predict: most states will enact taxes, but a few won't. Internet-based businesses will all flock there. They are happy because they get more business from no sales tax, and the states is happy because although they lose sales tax they make more business tax and personal income tax. This is not possible with retail stores, so the "flight" effect has been less pronounced.

    Also, as has been mentioned, many places will simply go offshore.
  • I mean, the government has to collect as much money as it needs anyway[...]

    Rubbish. The government collects as much revenue as it can without resorting to armed robbery and still winds up spending more than it takes in.

    So, yes to Internet taxes, if it means that other taxes will go down, because it is a fair tax.

    This will not happen. I'd be very surprised if taxes ever went down--our government is already used to getting a fair chunk of our incomes and has grown to need that chunk plus a little extra. Like any other animal that doesn't have to compete to survive, it's gotten fat, stupid and happy.

    As for taxes being fair...I disagree. Taxes aren't fair; I'm forced to pay for things that I don't want to buy and don't need, and some of what's taken doesn't even get sent to its nominal purpose. I as a citizen would pay for public education, police and roads--maybe some vaccinations. Why must I also pay Social Security (that I'll never see, BTW) and welfare?

  • Of course it's fair. That's why the techosnobs who thought they could skip out on paying sales taxes while the poor and people who don't have internet acesss would still have to pay sales taxes are so bent out of shape over this.

    Are you defining the word "fair" to mean "everyone gets screwed equally"?

  • You're saying their personal shortcomings a priori invalidate their opinions? Not bloody likely.

To downgrade the human mind is bad theology. - C. K. Chesterton

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