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Comment Re:not really Microsoft's fault, though... (Score 1) 2

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response. There are actually laws against this - but the legislature (with its ex-Microsoft Chair of the Finance committee Ross Hunter) and head of the tax department (Suzan Delbene, wife of Microsoft Office VP Kurt Delbene) are so in bed together that they choose not to enforce the laws. I think if the Seattle Times served its public role and reported on this ... more Washington residents might get out and do something about this ... or push for change ... but it's been kept pretty quiet.

Submission + - Not Just Apple, How Microsoft Sidestepped Billions in State Taxes ( 2

reifman writes: "Apple's not the only company to save billions in taxes through Nevada as The New York Times reported yesterday. Here's how Microsoft's saved $4.37 billion in tax payments to Washington State and how it's led indirectly to $4 billion in K-12 and Higher Education cuts since 2008. 18% of University of Washington freshman are now foreigners (because they pay more) up from 2% six years ago. Washington State ranks 47th nationally in 18-24 yo college enrollment and 48th in K-12 class size. This hasn't stopped the architect of the company's Nevada tax dodge from writing in The Seattle Times: 'it's [Washington] state's paramount duty to provide for the public education of all children. Unfortunately, steady declines in public resources now threaten our ability to live up to that commitment.' Yes, indeed."

Submission + - Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a virtual no-show at the ballot box ( 1

reifman writes: "Last week, The Seattle Times ran a four part series on Amazon hitting the company hard for a weak record of philanthropic contributions. One thing they missed is that CEO Jeff Bezos rarely votes, he's skipped 18 of the past 21 elections. Bezos gave $100,000 in 2010 to help defeat a progressive income tax reform initiative and Amazon spends about $60,000 annually lobbying for state interests."

Submission + - Microsoft Continues Assault on Education in Washington State (

reifman writes: "Washington State has cut more than $693 million in education funds in the last two years to offset its growing $5 billion biennial deficit. Last month, Microsoft General Counsel and Senior Vice President Brad Smith wrote in The Seattle Times that "steady declines in public resources now threaten our ability" to provide for the public education of all children but Smith didn't disclose his management of the company's lobbying efforts and Nevada tax dodge which have cost the state more tha $4.3 billion in revenues. The company has tried to discredit this blogger but recently refused to release tax data that would prove its claims. For the first time, we've published audio of Smith acknowledging and defending the company's Nevada tax dodge."

Submission + - Blogger Dares Microsoft to Release Tax Records (

reifman writes: "Microsoft's Corporate Vice President Brad Smith admitted the company's Nevada tax avoidance practice back in 2004 and the state's tax collection numbers have never added up. Based on Washington State's .484% royalty tax, the company should have paid about $720 million in tax on its $149 billion in licensing profit between 1997 and 2010, but the state reports collecting only a fraction of that from all its taxpayers. Yet, Microsoft PR continues to try to fool Seattle journalists with non-denial denials: 'Much of the information regarding this issue is misinformation primarily spread by a blogger, and no state official has ever provided any factual data supporting his claims'. There's a really easy way for Microsoft to set the record straight ... it need only release its worldwide licensing revenue figures and amounts of its royalty tax payments for the years 1997 to 2010."

Submission + - Blogger Tells Microsoft to Put Up or Shut Up on Ta ( 5

reifman writes: "After The Everett Herald published an editorial condemning Microsoft's hypocritical record of tax dodging while advocating for more education funding, Jeffrey Reading, Microsoft's Senior PR Manager wrote the paper to refute the claims: "Much of the information regarding this issue is misinformation primarily spread by a blogger, and no state official has ever provided any factual data supporting his claims." The editorial was based on reporting I've done since 2004 showing that Microsoft's avoided more than $1.07 billion in state taxes using its Nevada office. If Microsoft wishes to prove that it paid Washington State Royalty Taxes during the years 1998 — 2010, it should disclose its worldwide licensing revenue and its Royalty Tax payments for this time period (as I have done)."

Submission + - Reno Tires of Being "Cheap Date" for Tech Companie (

reifman writes: "In Huge Tech Firms Come to Nevada to Avoid Corporate Taxes, Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS TV questions state officials on whether having no corpoate taxes is really creating the kind of "relationships" and job growth that Nevada needs. The piece does a good job of highlighting tax avoidance practices of Microsoft, Apple, et al. Braeburn Capital is Apple's nameplate office with no employees (the domain resolves to Apple's website) and Apple's California employees are registered as its directors. Similarly, a source once told me that Microsoft commonly mailed bills to licensees from Washington State with envelopes stamped with its Nevada return address. These kinds of Alter Egos could be used by state department of revenues to collect back taxes."

Comment Again, see Section 7 of the ordinance (Score 1) 153

Section 7 – Exploration of the City of Seattle as a Direct Broadband Provider - If broadband internet access service providers providing service to residents of the City of Seattle violate this ordinance in ways which evidence a pattern and practice on behalf of those providers to interfere with the rights secured by this ordinance, the City Council of the City of Seattle shall explore the potential for the City of Seattle to become a direct broadband internet access service provider to the residents of the City of Seattle.

Comment Re:Bigger issue (Score 1) 153

You make it sounds like democracy is a can of worms :) Ha, it is. Besides, there already is a patchwork of sometimes conflicting statutes across our country. From the blog post ... This work is about giving up hope that Congress is going to do the right thing, or State legislatures are going to do the right thing; and beginning to craft a structure of "rights" at the municipal level that challenges the hegemony exercised by those other levels of government; and then using the combined force of that municipal strength to push upwards against those higher levels of government to get the change that we want and need. This organizing is about turning away from traditional activism (which is mired in letter writing campaigns and lowest common denominator federal and state legislation) and dipping our hands into a new activism in which the grassroots forces themselves begin to craft and model rights-based laws which then stitch together to change state constitutions, and eventually, to change the framework of the federal constitution itself. It's a realization that the only way substantive change is going to happen - especially that change that runs counter to the interests of a relatively small handful of corporations - is a revolt from the bottom, from the municipal level. It's promising and hopeful work involving people who have given up on higher levels of government doing what's needed; who are refocusing themselves on change that matters at the local level.

Comment Re:Are you prepared for the opposite as well? (Score 0) 153

A lot of people bring this up ... e.g. Seattle could re-legalize slavery or re-segregate. Thomas Linzey again: "On the issue of segregation, our ordinances actually expand rights-frameworks; so example, some of the ordinances adopted in rural communities borrow from UN materials to expand rights for communities and people; while reasserting and validating federal and state bill of rights protections. So, it isn't about a 'race to the bottom', but a 'race to the top' - a new civil rights movement which expands and accelerates rights protections which then come into fundamental conflict with rights claimed by corporations and higher units of government."
The Internet

Submission + - Can municipalities enforce local Net Neutrality? (

reifman writes: "Instead of waiting for Congress to pass a bill to enforce Net Neutrality, net activists should take a cue from Pittsburgh, whose city council recently passed groundbreaking legislation banning fracking. While fracking and Net Neutrality have little in common, Pittsburgh's ordinance (pdf) uses powerful legal concepts that may be useful for preserving Internet freedoms. Like Pittsburgh has done with fracking, any community can enact an ordinance that enforces Net Neutrality at the local level, as the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011 aspires to do at the federal level. And, they can do so now ... without waiting for Congress."
The Internet

Submission + - Enforce Net Neutrality through Local Law (

reifman writes: "Instead of waiting for Congress to pass a bill to enforce Net Neutrality, net activists should take a cue from Pittsburgh, whose city council recently passed groundbreaking legislation banning fracking (an environmentally polluting form of natural gas drilling). The same legal concepts used to ban fracking can be used to enforce net neutrality."

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