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The Almighty Buck

WTO Puts Internet Taxes on Hold 90

dafunn writes "CNet is reporting that the WTO is in agreement over extending the current Net tax ban for another 18 to 24 months. I don't know how long this will last, but it looks like temporary good news for e-commerce in general. The story is availible online. "
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WTO Puts Internet Taxes on Hold

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  • "...governments should not be over-regulating this brand-new commercial dimension..."

    Why? Because they just don't understand it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I already pay tax (VAT) on my purchases over the Internet, and I think that's quite enough! Can someone explain what they are proposing: would I have to pay extra tax on stuff even if I ordered it on a company in my country on a server in my country using a computer in my country and got it delivered in my country? That seems a little unfair (actually, a lot).

    first they got rid of duty free, then this, what next? (france is still cheaper to buy mucho booze from tho)

  • Analysts estimate that e-commerce could swell into a $2 trillion to $5 trillion business in the next six years. About half of that will be generated outside the United States, they say.

    e-commerce outside of the US ? ? Ohhh yeah baby, we are going international!

    But i would love to see how crazy a tax system would get on the Net!! Hmmm probably have a movie about it soon :)

  • The first rule in economics..you do not talk about economics....no wait a minute that's not it.

    It seems to me that the people who would most like to see taxes on e-commerce are politicians and big business. Politicians want it so they can soak more money out of the masses. Big Business wants it because they know they can afford it and the smaller companies will be thrown from the walls

    Hannibal is at the gate and I, for one, am writing my representatives.

  • Excuse me but isn't this obvious? It's called the World *Trade* Organization, not the World *Lets Get ourselves Taxed* organization.

    Taxes raise the price of goods without putting any money in profit form into the pockets of the seller. Raising the price without raising the profit is something I would think that people interested in "trade" would be clearly against.

    I was thinking about writing a totally paranoid rant about the WTO and inserting it here, but I figure I'll pass because we've probably already seen most of this stuff. Just IMHO as an organization, you've got to be pretty evil to get a super-apathetic American public so pissed off as to go into the streets and protest in those numbers.

  • Ultimately, companies want the WTO to permanently eliminate customs tariffs..

    I am not a student of economics so if someone could enlighten me: If the goal of WTO is to get rid of tariffs and import/export taxes which will result in increased trade among the nations, why is it such a bad thing?
  • The problem with letting governments (be they National, (US) State, or local have the right to tax Internet commerce in at all is that it makes them think they have a right to tax Internet commerce in any fashion they want to. And historically, governments are much more reluctant to give up taxes than they are to raise them.

    Besides it is difficult to determine just what to tax. What is the basis for determining who gets the tax? The location of the server hosting a selling company? The location of the company's HQ? The location of the factory/warehouse the sold product is coming from? The buyer's location (in all his possible permutations)? The thought that I could be taxed buy multiple governments scares me.

    Mike Eckardt [geocities.com] meckardt@yahoo.spam.com
  • Does this mean that my P0RN has been deregulated? Now all nations in every continent belonging to the WTO can have a fair shot at exporting their P0RN. Hmm. I wonder if the US porn industry would support a tariff on overseas electronic commerce (hard to enforce). The US industry could advocate sanctions cause they use child labor.
  • The idea of internet taxation is ridiculous! Perhaps we are safe now, but what about 18-24 months down the road the politicians start lobbying again? The government is pulling a total Microsoft here. If they don't own it, they'll either A) Buy it. B) Destroy it. or C) Ignore it completely and engineer all of they're products to work against it.
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @05:19AM (#1484035)
    Every time some senator or economic group endorses the delay of Internet commerce taxes, the reasons are usually not because they dislike taxes or want a free and unique global-transaction system as we have now.

    Instead, the reasons are almost unanimously to continue to entice and encourage more people to use the internet for purchases. Once they are satisfied that Internet purchases have become a way-of-life, as ingrained as handing a credit card over for every purchase at the local convenience store, the taxes will be ushered forth by a rush of oinking pigs, eager to pillage your pocket on every transaction.

    Yes, there are various reasons for and against taxing Internet transactions, but I'm speaking only to the reasoning behind the current hype over not taxing. It's temporary -- and it is for the best interest of all governments. Don't be lulled into believing that they really are interested in simple free-trade and uninhibited capitalism and entrepreneurship.

    Proposed delays are in the best interest of those who wish taxing (even heavy taxing) of the Internet.

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @05:22AM (#1484036) Homepage
    Ohhh, thank you WTO, that was generous of you.
    I'm glad that a governing body that has no right at all to tell ANY of us what to do (and was not voted in by us) has decided to be nice for a little while. I mean they could decide to charge a %50 tax on E-commerce and what could we do about it? Nothing, we are just little serfs.

    I'd like to see the US just say "fuck off" to the UN, WTO, and any other pseudo-government that decides it knows how to run a country better than said country's government. None of these orgs have the US's best interest in mind, nor were they delegated by a democratic vote, so why the hell would we take these idiots seriously?

    I have a feeling these riots are just the tip of the iceberg. Soverign countries are not going to take kindly to some "world government" telling them what to do.


  • Know New Taxes! (Haven't we been fed this line before???)

    Here little kids, want some candy? We will feed you candy in the early days, then sell you into slavery when you grow up. WTO is Big Brother coming to life. This whole thing scares me. Seems the WTO is only intent on enslaving third world workers. That $500 Meade telescope I just bought, made in Taiwan - I bet the guy who actually did the hard work probably made fifty cents to build it. A dollar if lucky.

    More WTO Protest discussion here. []

  • While this sounds good on the surface, it doesn't go far enough. The ban on Internet taxation needs to be nothing less than permanent.

    After a little thought, it is actually quite disheartening that they are still leaving the door open to reverse this position in the future.

    Time to start a new 'net, one they can't touch.

  • And becouse they quite simply can't tax it fairly. eCommerce can be VERY independent of geographic location, and the location a site is hosted in can change at a moments notice.
  • Funny, I seem to remember while in history the individual states saying the same thing about the federal government. Oh, and then there was that civil war thing. Hrm..

    There are always orginizations that will set rules over the activities of everyone.

    Note, you don't elect the reps from other states, yet they directly affect things IN your state. No, they wheren;t elected by you at all, but by someone else. These same people may be residing on a board that decides how much money you get for your highways and schools. Yet you didn;t elect them at all..

    Then there are the judges. You didn;t vote for that guy who just made you pay an 'unfair' speeding ticket, did you.. Guess he shouldn't have any authority, eh?
  • Without repeating a bunch of details that can be found elsewhere, all of the info I've seen regarding the WTO has some pretty serious New World Order / One World Government overtones to it.

    Additionally, (and I'm still researching this point, so don't go quoting me just yet) our obligations under the WTO would be in direct violation to our Constitution in several ways. I won't detail them yet since, like I said, I'm not done researching this yet.

    I know I didn't really answer your question very well, but hopefully I've pointed you in the right direction to find the answers for yourself.

    Just remember, this is politics, and the first rule of doing evil through political means is "Make it sound good on the surface." If you want to know why people are objecting, you need to dig beneath the surface and check out the details.

  • by otis wildflower ( 4889 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @05:34AM (#1484043) Homepage
    The problem is that nations don't want to get into the competition game. Once the economy is global, then nations need to compete against each other for the 'business' of multinational corporations ('business' being jobs, tax dollars, prestige, etc which help keep the citizenry happy enough to remain compliant and obedient). Like any competition, certain nations have certain advantages (natural resources, good government, educated people, deep water ports, affluent people, disciplined culture, infrastructure) over others, so those less-advantaged nations have to overcome those missing advantages by other means (dictatorial 'serf' labor, environmental hostility) when competing. Some businesses (consulting) don't care about low labor costs or environmental laissez-faire. Others (manufacturing, heavy industry, etc) may consider those criteria more important.

    Where does government enter into this? Government decides the compromise between what its voters demand (high wages, good jobs, environmental protection, fair treatment of labor, etc) and what these companies demand (largely, the diametric opposite). The decisions made by governments are reflected in its trade policies.

    Not that the government is correct, but that's the rationale IMHO.. The scary part is that, when compared, corporate demand is like the tortoise and popular demand is like the hare: slow and steady lobbying will almost always beat heated point-in-time (but mostly ephemeral) protests..

    Your Working Boy,
  • Nations generally want tariffs etc to protect their own citizens from more competitive outsiders.

    As an example, the US has resently placed an import tax of some sort (I'm a little sketchy on the details, because I basicly don't care) on beef because our (New Zealand) producers can make it much more cheeply, and US farmers just couldn't compete...

  • All though I personally am un effected by the decision to temporarily with hold this tax, I feel that when it does finally come to pass, it will not be an entirely bad thing, as it stands, the majority of people who use the internet for shopping and e-commerce fall in to a middle to high income bracket, and they are the only ones who can take advantage of the competitive web market, this puts people in a lower income bracket at a severe disadvantage, by introducing this tax it will be in effect, leveling the playing feild and making prices online more similar to those elsewhere, this will make it so that people of all income brackets will ultimately be paying a similar price, and no one will have an advantage.
  • Historically, the taxes and tariffs on international trade have taken place at two points, entrance and exit. and it is at one of these points that internet tariffs are most likely to occur, simply for enforcement reasons. By tradition, and probably international law, a nation can tariff goods coming in to it, and going out of it. Goods on the way out are the easiest to catch, by simply requiring all internet sellers to register, and pay up a certain percentage of total sales value per year. This means that taxes would be paid to what ever nation the company is formed in, and registered as a business or corporation in. I don't have a lot of knowledge of business law, but I seem to recall that any corporation or company, especially one that operates internationally, must be registered as coming from a certain nation. It would logically follow that that nation to ne the one that benefits from the taxes on that company, but we all know how rare logic is in a bureaucracy. Entrance taxes are also viable, but would be a nightmare to implement, due to value determinations, etc. Any other country has about as much enforceable reason to tax as Urbugooistakistan has to put tariffs on the goods on the plane overflying Gropestia on it's trip from Rome to Tokyo. However, I don't really see how any other scheme can be enforced reasonably, and I'd like to believe that most international gov'ts are at least mildly reluctant to bring out the black helicopters and MIB's for deliquent taxes.
  • Thank God that they didn't put a tax on the net.

    This was my first impression, too. However, after more thought, I think the correct response is to be pissed that these bastards are even considering it in the first place.

  • Think about it,
    tax free E-commerce is good for the seller, good for the buyer. But on the long term is it Good for the citizen ?
    I don't think so. The state will loose money and it will raise other taxes ... People who can benefit from intern et shop will pay less taxe that those who can't. Usually those who don't have access to the Internet are the poorest not the whealthiest. So in the long term that kind of law makes the poor poorer and the rich richer - This is bad if you want any kind of social stability.
  • Fact remains, this is nothing more than the unsurping of hundreds of national governments by what amounts to a group of big business leaders who have only their best interest in mind.

    Your point is taken, but you forget that in this "new" government we have NO say. No representatives, no elections, no recourse.
    At least in the US's admitedly imperfect system, we have SOME say.

    And to a point, I still say the same thing about the federal government. It is way too big, and has lost touch with the people it is supposed to be the government for. It now seems to only look out for its interests, and if it's people get in the way of those interests, then some "corrective actions" are taken to fix the problem.

  • If you buy something from a retailer at your local general store, you pay a tax. If you place a telephone order to a company based in your state, you pay a tax. Interstate commerce is tax free AFAIK. International commerce (both E-based and otherwise) is regulated via tarrifs imposed by customs.

    Why should the internet be any different? We need to realize that internet commerce is killing local retailers. If those retailers go, we loose the tax base they generated (read downtown improvements). E-Commerce is good for the consumer, but bad for the community.

    We should not be trying to eleminate E-Tax. We should work to make sure that the tax is FAIR and the money goes to improve the internet as a whole (maybe into r&d or local bandwidth increaces?).

    As to the question of who could impose the tax, I do not think the WTO or the federal government could do that. If the fed govmt could tax interstate commerce, they would have done so already; and the WTO cannot impose any regulations in-country (they could lobby our politicians to do so).
  • Then there are the judges. You didn;t vote for that guy who just made you pay an 'unfair' speeding ticket, did you.. Guess he shouldn't have any authority, eh?

    Actually, while judges aren't elected INTO office, every time I vote, their names are on the ballot to be voted OUT OF office. So even though you didn't vote for the guy who made you pay the unfair speeding ticket, you WILL have an opportunity to vote against him.

  • I'd like to see the US just say "fuck off" to the UN, WTO, and any other pseudo-government that decides it knows how to run a country better than said country's government

    ... were it not for the fact that the US government was among the prime movers for the foundation of the UN and the WTO (among other international organisations - see also IMF, World Bank, NATO etc). Having set these bodies up, Washington tends to use them to pursue its own aims (privatisation of the Russian economy, credit crunches in S.E. Asia, Desert Storm and continued bombing of Iraq etc), while claiming that it's a world consensus.

    BTW, since when was your government delegated by a democratic vote, anyway? In a true democracy, it doesn't cost upwards of $30 million to get elected...

  • Not what we think. Yeah, the US is a little harder to step on than a smaller country, but let's face it, the UN is in it for the UN, not any specific country. It's all about power. And not wanting you little countries to get any or have any.

    Corporations pretty much control it, so when the time comes to usurp power from the US, I don't imagine we will have the backbone to stand up for ourselves, And we'll be in the same boat as you.

    But hey, don't complain too loudly, or a peacekeeping operating may be directed toward your neck of the woods.
  • Yep,this is a trade organization, so I'd agree with you there.

    Raising the price without raising the profit is something I would think that people interested in "trade" would be clearly against

    Maybe in the first world. If you are a delegate from the third world you may be interested in tarrifs. Since you can't tax your own people enough to support your government you may have to rely on taxing imports to generate revenue.

    On a similar note, we in the first world had to experience the unfair labor laws, child exploitation, and unsanitary and downright lifethreatening work environments as we navigated the industrial revolution. Now that we find ourselves navigating the information revolution we (President Clinton, the Seattle protesters, silent first-world citizens nodding in affirmation) believe that we can impose labor standards on these developing countries despite their cost of implemenation. Why would we think another country must implement our standards and not have to go through the same growing pains we had to in order to get to where we are?


    you've got to be pretty evil to get a super-apathetic American public so pissed off as to go into the streets and protest in those numbers.

    It's not an apathetic public that is protesting. You have a very organized protest that has been in the making for months. They annouced their objectives months ago, and Seattle has no one to blame except themselves for the crisis. They could have planned better. Still, the AFL-CIO is helping to organize the protesters, and why not? Labor standards (read socialism) is their goal. If they can export their beliefs perhaps they can have a voice in the rule of government which adopt those beliefs.(NY Times) include the Sierra Club, United Steelworkers of America, and various smaller groups. [nytimes.com]

    They are definitely a well-organized group with a self-serving message to be heard.

  • Washington tends to use them to pursue its own aims (privatisation of the Russian economy, credit crunches in S.E. Asia, Desert Storm and continued bombing of Iraq etc), while claiming that it's a world consensus.

    Agreed, but then again it's been a long time since the US government had the best interest's of it's OWN citizens in mind.

    Now, the UN/World Bank/etc. is funded by corporations. I said in a previous post that yes, these one world government orgs can rape and control a smaller country easier than the US, but I honestly think that when the time comes, our federal government will bow down and take it's marching orders from these people. Any one world government will not stand for any country to try to rule itself or have a say in it's own affairs. They know better.

    BTW, since when was your government delegated by a democratic vote, anyway? In a true democracy, it doesn't cost upwards of $30 million to get elected...

    We are not a true democracy, we are a Republic. And in a perfect world, Communism works too, but this world isn't perfect. Our system is very flawed, but I still feel it's better than having some group of corporations come and usurp our government to supplant one that will do their bidding.


  • What about sites that already are charging taxes to its customers?

    I bought some jeans from levi.com and was charged sales tax. Their 'Help' section states:
    • We are required by current law to charge the appropriate amount of state and local sales tax on our sales in all states where we have stores.

    Is that bullshit, or for real?
    (regardless, I don't plan on going back. Their site sucks.)

  • Funny, most of the people I've discussed the matter with (here in the U.S.) view the UN as a tool for coercing the U.S. into spending large amounts of our resources to aid the rest of the world, even when it is in direct opposition to our own interest.

    Guess it all depends on which perspective you're looking at it from...

  • This won't level the playing field in the way you imagine. In fact, it may actually hurt the lower classes even more than the upper classes. This free wheeling net ecomony gives no advantage to any class, except the convience of not having to drive to the local store to pick up the goods. After all, it creates thousands of cash strapped companies, who have to sell at just above the prices they buy or make their products at, in order to stay at competive pricing. Many thousands of net companies have great difficulties showing a profit at all. Has Amazon yet? I don't know. Then, high shipping prices utterly annihilate the savings made from purchasing the product from the cheapest dealer. What this situation creates is the following: Broke financial backers. Fatter upper class people, since they don't even have to walk up and down the front steps anymore. And uncounted infrastructure jobs. Somebody has to pack the goods, somebody has to ship them, somebody has to keep track of inventory for these companies... and guess what? They're all low level, unskilled jobs, many of which even pay near living wages. Remember the UPS strike and the subsequent raises for how many thousands of low class individuals?
    All this comes at the expense of the store across town, mind you, which, if like the average department store, employs a handful of career individuals, a few desperate folks, and a whole lot of kids in school. A good number of the people who don't fit in, and those who are using it as a 'play' job for Friday's date money get fired as the store knuckles down for competition.
    Now, add a bunch of taxes to the situation. I think a fairly low yet reasonable figure is, oh, 10%. After all, the American and European governments show little moderation once they start charging taxes. The people's pockets are infinitely deep. Now, suddenly the prices online are just about the same as the prices on the shelves at the store across town. With shipping, that makes those online prices more expensive, and less convient, since it's not anwhere near as fast as the run across town this afternoon. Bang, the internet companies can't compete anymore. They start to fold left and right as the wealthy return to purchasing the cumulatively cheaper items in their hometown, and the internet gets stripped in terms of commerce, as the weaker companies die off between the double blow of less business, and profit stripping taxes. This super culling process would leave a handful of AOL size behemoths, probably net monopolies, and nothing else... Not the best sort of thing for a capitalistic system, neh?
    Not every field should be level. After all, water couldn't do anything but stagnate if all the world were perfectly flat.
  • as it stands, the majority of people who use the internet for shopping and e-commerce fall in to a middle to high income bracket,

    I must take exception to this statement. I work my ass off for every last cent that I put into my pocket. Now, if I choose to work even harder, and as a result put more money in my pocket, why do I suddenly have LESS of a right to expect to be able to keep the money which I worked so hard to earn?

  • This is my ignorance talking, but I could have sworn that the WTO had appointed representatives.
  • I'm sure they do, but appointed by who? I certinly don't remember that vote. In fact, the whole thing seems to be done so covertly, the average American (and I'll wager citizens of most other countries) have no idea what's going on or who's in charge.

  • So, we have one thread here about how great the WTO is because it's blocking Internet taxes... and we have another thread just further down talking about how wonderful the hippies rioting in Seattle are for fighting for individuals over the evil, satanic corporatist WTO.

  • by bonehead ( 6382 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @06:53AM (#1484068)
    Why should the internet be any different?

    It shouldn't, and, as far as I know, it isn't.

    Placing an order over the Internet is treated exactly the same way as any other mail order transaction. If I purchase something from outside my state, there is no sales tax. When I buy my TRGPro in January, I'll have to pay sales tax since they are in my state. And I'll have to pay that sales tax regardless of whether I phone my order in, drive the two blocks down the street to pick it up in person, or place my order through the web.

    When you get right down to it, e-commerce is nothing new. It's basically just mail-order, we've been doing it for years, I mean, how long ago did the first Sears & Roebuck catalog come out? Calling it e-commerce just means that you're using this "new fangled Internet thingie-jigger" to let the company know that you want them to send you something. It's still no different than picking up the phone and ordering something from the Sears catalog. Frankly, I can see no reasone whatsoever why they think there needs to be a special tax on the sale just because you place your order through a web form instead of a phone call. (No reason other than blatant governmental greed, anyway.)

  • How about the WTO enforce some kind of "fair wage" mentality so I don't have to have such a problem. Another problem, I didn't see any USA-made telescopes. They must be like typewriters: There hasn't been ONE company making them here in the USA for about 10 years. Because it's easier to get cheap labor (aka steal) from people in Mexico who can't afford much more than a cardboard box to live in from the wages they pay.
  • It's bullshit. They don't have to. In fact, they might just pocket the money.
  • The UN was created after WWII to prevent WWIII. As such, the best interests of *ALL* nations, not just the US are taken into account.

    coercing the U.S. into spending large amounts of our resources to aid the rest of the world

    That's complete b*llsh*t. To start, the US owes the UN more money than any other country. I think they haven't paid a cent of the UN dues since the organization was started. And yet, they get a few "perks" out of it. The headquarters are in the US, so all the bureaucratic jobs to to American citizens. And, the US gets a veto power!!!

    If you ask me, I'm surprised it's not every country *other* than the US that ignores the UN.

  • Ok...This is conspiracy theory here so be warned:

    Well, conspiracy theory or now, it is correct. That sure seems to be what is happening.

    The term conspiracy theory is a funny term. It seems to be applied to anything that people do not want to listen to, think about, or believe. I'm sure there was once a bunch of conspiracy theory nuts all over Germany during Hitler's rise to power. And I'm sure they were were brushed off as such and ignored.

  • How is Internet commerce really different from something like mail order commerce? Haven't we been dealing with this for some time?
  • That's complete b*llsh*t. To start, the US owes the UN more money than any other country. I think they haven't paid a cent of the UN dues since the organization was started.

    No, it's not. We do "donate" more of our resources than ANY other UN country. Who makes up a massive percentage of every "peacekeeping" force?

    As for the dues, that is all bullshit. We were owed many times more than our UN dues by many other countries, debts that we chose to let go. (It seems our leaders are morons, who knew?)

    You need to learn that there is a distinct difference between the US population and government. The government abuses the UN, bombs other countries, etc. The population (most that I know) say "Fuck the UN" stop bombing other countries every time Clinton needs to divert attention from a scandel, stop sending our kids to die trying to perserve peace in some backwoods country that considers burning out flag a national pasttime, and leave us the hell alone. We don't need yet another layer of ineffective government telling us we have too much freedom.


  • I'm sure they do, but appointed by who? I certinly don't remember that vote. In fact, the whole thing seems to be done so covertly, the average American (and I'll wager citizens of most other countries) have no idea what's going on or who's in charge.
    Well said...that's really why the best term to describe our (OK, I'm being blatantly US-centric, so shoot me) form of government is "bureaucracy"! After all, when you elect someone, who votes with a whole lot of other people to appoint someone, who appoints someone else, who hires someone else, who directs somebody else, who makes a rule/policy/standard that effectively has the force of law, I think asking just how representative this system really is is a fair question. And unfortunately, this seems to be largely the situation with the WTO and other national and international organizations...

  • If this is their rule, the WTO will sanction nations who charge taxes for internet sales. But what right does the WTO have to tell a nation what to do with their own taxes? I mean isn't that what tariffs are about? If France imposes a 5% tax on internet sales then people will buy from elsewhere.

    There's your net tax ban right there. Screw the WTO.

    But don't worry about it right now. You'll understand exactly what I mean in 5 years. :)
  • one main reason it's seen as so bad is that the WTO believes in profit at all costs. this means that no matter who it hurts, they try to make way for profit. if this was an organization created to help third world workers, this wouldn't be much of a problem. the problem (imho) is that this organization is composed mostly of large multi-million and -billion dollar corporations. they're only acting in self-preservation.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Most politicians realize that if they tax e-commerce while still in it's infancy, they may kill it. They will not get any tax revenue that way.

    BUT...if they keep it a tax-free medium for a period of time, e-commerce will grow to the point to where a tax will not impact it (because everyone buys goods via the Internet). THEN they will tax it.

  • That's the two words you were looking for :)

    Frankly speaking I don't care if the WTO declares war on sweatshops, taxes of all sorts, and the killing of sea turtles (and I am definitely in favor of laws protecting them; who's it gonna hurt to protect endangered turtles??).

    I still don't want any organization violating a nation's sovereignty with their one-size-fits-all trade laws.

    Do you think the WTO protects the interests of small nations against the bullying power of the big ones? Bull puckey. All the small countries are getting their tails kicked.

    (FYI the WTO overrode the US, which until then protected sea turtles - see the Dec. 3 LA Times, page A1)
  • Some people will lose their jobs and businesses because it is cheaper to buy that stuff or service from abroad.
  • Business fills the loss of control by governements.
    Business are more greedy- exploit workers and the environment.

    (This is a reason, not that I believe it.)
  • Some evil foreign body is going to tell us (the US) how to behave, raping our resources in the process.

    (Not that I believe it.)
  • As much as I like the idea of buying things on the net without paying any taxes, we will eventually need to have internet taxes. Everyone pretty much agrees that E-commerce will continue to grow. Some go so far as to say it will eventually be the primary shopping experience for people (although I would tend to disagree). Now think about where a large majority of government revenue comes from...sales tax. Six percent on the dollar (which is what it is here locally) is a damn large amount of money. Now if even 50% of sales become internet sales, that is a HUGE loss. Whether you like the way the government spends it's money or not, if it's going to keep going it NEEDS this revenue.
  • As such, the best interests of *ALL* nations, not just the US are taken into account.

    Do you really believe that? Fact is, the best interests of the *UN itself* are taken into account. The UN is maneuvering to position itself as the One World Government. The best interests of any single nation, or group of nations, are only looked after occasionally, and then only as a PR exercise.

    To start, the US owes the UN more money than any other country.

    I'm actually not quite sure what our status is on payment of dues, but I can assure you that any unpaid amount is trivial in comparison to money owed us by other countries that we will never see. Not to mention that the dues should not be paid anyway, since our participation in this organization is in direct violation of our Constitution.

    The headquarters are in the US, so all the bureaucratic jobs to to American citizens

    Give me a break. Have you checked our population recently? The paltry few bureaucratic and clerical jobs we get by virtue of locating the headquarters in New York is hardly what I'd call relevant to our economy. Sheesh, you're really stretching on this one.

    And, the US gets a veto power!!!

    This is the one and only reason I can see for us to even maintain membership. And it still doesn't justify the surrender of part of our sovereignty to foreign influences.

    Please, by all means, boot us out. Put the headquarters in London, Stockholm, Toronto, Johannesburg, or wherever. U.S. involvement in the UN is NOT in the best interest of our country, and I'll be throwing a huge party at my place the day our delegates stand up in front of the general assemply, flip everyone the bird, and announce "Screw you all, we're out of here!"

  • Actually, it's sales taxes and tariffs that are oppressive. The rich (and corporations) will spend a far, far smaller percentage of their income on sales taxes and tariffs, whilst the poor pay a greater percentage -- mostly since the poor don't have the money to buy anything that's non-essential.

    The only fair choice: income tax. The more you make, the more you pay. What about flat taxes where everyone pays the same amount? These are typically "income only" taxes, which exclude all money coming in from investments and the like. Under the last 17% flat tax I saw pitched, Steve Forbes would have paid nothing.

    Oh, gee, but high taxation of the rich stifles investment and innovation. Here's a rude wake-up. Bush just advocated something like a 33.6% maximum for the highest tax bracket. Few people realize that in the 1950's, the highest tax bracket in the US was around 80%. In short, the government bled the rich dry. *sarcasm* And gee, the 1950's sure were a miserable time for industry. There was soo little innovation and industrial expansion during that time. *end sarcasm* The rationale was, after the first few hundred thousand a year, you've definitely got enough to live comfortably, and Uncle Sam gets the rest. (Can anyone out there not live really well on $1,000/day?)

    Tariffs and sales taxes are the wrong answer.
  • How would you tax something over the internet? From where the company is located, where the warehouse is?, where the customer is?, or where the server making the transaction is? I mean. If i order something from Oregon (i live in Georgia), i dont want to have to pay the oregon taxes, cause well, im never gonna go there. And why should i pay to improves a place where i would get no benefit?? I just think that anything to do with internet taxes is just a BAD idea. Since the Internet spans all countries, there would be so many different taxes one would have to pay, and who wants to do that? Ive purchased a few items from online. I dont think i saved much if any money from ordering these items online than from driving to the store and looking for them. I just liked sitting at home and having something come straight to my doorstep.
  • Taxes, as much a pain in the as as they can be, are what pays for schools, walkway, roads, public services, etc. To me, all this anti net tax talk is prooaganda and it holds no rationnal ground. And what is this "because they don't understand how it works" argument?!? The goverment doesen't have to "understand" technology. The only thing they have to know is that every time a merchant passes a transaction, wether nationnaly or internationnaly, there is a tax to pay. Now this has been how it works for everyone for countless years and I dont see why a category of merchants should have special and very unfair privileges.
    Without music, life would be an error.
  • You're a right wing, isolationist, wacko!

    And you said it much better than I did, thanks :)

  • by MillMan ( 85400 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @09:53AM (#1484096)
    In the short term (at least) this is obviously a Good Thing. Perhaps this points to slow waning of government power. Since the WTO is mostly a collective unit of corporations, this agreement shouldn't be suprising. It's more money that we'll have to spend at the Big Corporation's new e-commerce web site. It almosts reminds me of the situation in cryptonomicon, where the main characters basically discovered that the governments were "scared shitless" by the data vault because it could affect their ability to collect taxes. I'm not saying typical governments are going away, but this is a very small step twords a powershift in favor of corporations.
  • Hmm.. the WTO is telling us what to do?? Odd, I don't recall voting anyone into the WTO.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If we would once have a libertarian president (lp.org), these sort of issues would never come up. One day...
  • There are already taxes on e-commerce, so I'm not quite sure what they mean. If you buy a book from Chapters.ca, you have to pay GST like everyone else. If you order from Amazon.com, you can evade state sales taxes, but if you get it shipped to another country, you may have to pay duties (although I think most industrialised countries have eliminated tariffs on printed material.) Certainly other kinds of e-commerce have to live with national taxes or pay duties if they apply to the product they are selling.

    There are no special taxes on services sold over the web, and software sold over the web is in a sort of limbo where there is no clear avenue to charge duties across borders.

    I suspect the WTO is simply postponing working out exactly what regimes of taxation should and should work over the web between countries. This is as much a bad thing as a good one - it is no guarantee of a tax free nirvana online.

    The WTO encourages free trade after a fashion by providing a mechanism for determining what kinds of laws and taxes are fair for international commerce and which ones aren't. The only power of enforcement they have available is that they can sanction tariffs against offending countries if the country doesn't agree to change its laws.

    The WTO can't just amend national laws. Any country can pass any law they like, as long as they are willing to pay the price.

    My problem is not with the idea of a global tribunal of that type, nor with the idea of free trade, nor even with the very limited enforcement mechanism available to them. However, what I consider fair rules and free trade differs substantially from what the WTO thinks, and there is no mechanism whereby I can influence WTO policy in that regard. That is what is truely wrong with the WTO.
  • Taxes, as much a pain in the as as they can be, are what pays for schools, walkway, roads, public services, etc.

    Which is precisely why someone running a business in San Diego, California should not be paying taxes to the government of Bangor, Maine. The Bangor schools do not educate his workers. He does not tread upon the Bangor sidewalks. He does not drive upon the Bangor roads. What part of this progression eludes you?

    By all means, levy a reasonable property tax on his storage facilities and offices in San Diego (unless you have a better idea of how to pay for the local services he does use and legitimately should support). Internet tax proposals (and mail-order tax proposals generally) are simply government greed.

  • No, it's not. We do "donate" more of our resources than ANY other UN country. Who makes up a massive percentage of every "peacekeeping" force?

    Eighty-five countries have contributed peace-keeping troops, the majority of whom are from third-world countries. Look at the list of current peacekeeping missions [un.org]. The UN pays $1000 per soldier per month, which makes it a strong incentive for poorer countries to send troops for peacekeeping duty.

    As for the dues, that is all bullshit. We were owed many times more than our UN dues by many other countries, debts that we chose to let go.

    Most of this debt is subsidies for US industry and agriculture. The money often never even changes hands. You want 40 F-16s? No money? No problem - we can arrange a loan for you. The loan is announced with great fanfare. Dignitaries sign documents and shake hands before cameras. The F-16s get shipped a few months later. On the other hand, the US dues for 1999 are $298 million. With a population of 300 million, that's about $1 per citizen. Compared to that, the US spends $12 billion for ``foreign aid''. More than 50% of this goes to Israel and Egypt. Most of that money - you guessed it - ends up as a subsidy for the arms industry.

    The government abuses the UN, bombs other countries, etc. The population (most that I know) say "Fuck the UN" stop bombing other countries every time Clinton needs to divert attention from a scandel, stop sending our kids to die...

    I agree with you, but for different reasons! The UN has a role to play - preventing WWIII. The US, with its bullying of the UN after non-payment of dues to the tune of $1.5 billion, is subverting its authority. Here is the UN's take on the money issue [un.org]. This was taken to another level after ramming the Yugoslavia operation down the UN's throat. Other nations are less likely to trust the ability of the UN to take an impartial(one not dictated by the USA) stand on any matter. Ergo, the UN loses legitimacy in the eyes of the world.

  • Here's the real problem with the current prohibition on internet taxes: it is setting up another large transfer of power from local to national governments.

    Most local and state governments in the US are very dependent upon some form of sales tax. As has been stated in other posts to this article, the day will probably come when there will be taxes levied upon internet commerce. But you can be sure that when that happens (what, maybe 2-3 years from now?) that it will be the federal government that will have to authority to levy and collect these taxes. There may be some sort of system created to distribute these monies back to the individual states, but you can be assured that any such system will do more to place state government under the thumb of the feds.

    I'm just as much in favor of lower taxes as the next guy, but I'm concerned that the current hysteria about keeping taxes off of internet commerce isn't really just becoming a temporary subsidy for internet retailers. Do they really need that tax break to become established? Come on now; we should all be aware (especially /.'ers) of the inherent advantages internet retailers have over current 'brick-and-mortar' establishments. Let them compete fairly.

    It is a given that the internet is so new that any tax system put in place by any government has a chance of not being the best solution. Will this change in a few years when governments finally get around to it? Probably not.

    Here's a link to a summary of the feelings of many of the states' governors about the current situation: http://www.nga.org/Releases/Letters/971010letter.h tm
    While you're there, browsing the rest of the nga.org site for more information, including reasonable proposals for dealing with this issue now. We just can't stick our heads in the sand about this issue because we enjoy the current tax-free shopping. Be aware, the internet *will not* remain tax-free. It's just a matter of time before the amount of money available for taxation can't be passed up by an government. The longer we wait to do something about this the more likely it is that the taxing authority will be the national government, with the corresponding transfer of power from local to national government.
  • by bartok ( 111886 ) on Friday December 03, 1999 @12:09PM (#1484104)
    The WTO is democratie's biggest ennemy. This is all a result of our flawed system.

    Politicians finance their campaings with corporate money and in exchange they take care of corporate agenda's. The WTO is nothing but a multinationnal corporate mafia that has power OVER democraties.

    I mean, this would be nice if The People could use it as an internationnal court to limit corporate misbehaviour but it turns out it's the other way around. The WTO is there so that corporations interests no longer need a govenment's aproval for anything they want to do.

    The biggest INSULT to democraties is that the people who make decision at the WTO are chosen in totally arbitrary ways by the corporations themselves!!! Knowing this, can anyone say there is no Big Brother? This is even worse than an Imperialist state because it covers the whole damned planet. Ironically, who's "tax" money do you think is backing this up?
    Without music, life would be an error.

  • right wing: Yep.

    isolationist: No, not really.

    wacko: I don't think so, but it depends on who you ask. :-)

  • Uhhh... Am I off topic?
  • Oops!
    Apologies to all for the bad grammar in my preceding post.
  • I live in Seattle.

    Because of their bullshit, I have been peppergassed, had my neighborhood overtaken by stormtroopers and watched little old ladies and
    children get gassed, shot and beaten.

    UGP WTO Coverage [gawth.com]

  • and ive also read about the WTO that when a vote takes place, each country counts as ONE vote. This means countries like the United States, or Russia, or China have the same power as smaller countries like Cuba, Panama, Switerland. Im not saying anything wrong about these smaller countries, but choices that the WTO makes effects the US more than smaller countries....Even in the USA Presidential Elections, the larger states have more say in whos president than the actual number of votes....
  • mezzo, be sure and check the facts out yourself. There is a lot of mis-information in the previous replys.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents