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US House Votes To Renew Internet Tax Ban 123

Posted by kdawson
from the partisan-as-ever dept.
Talen317 writes with news that the US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to renew the ban on taxing Internet access — but only for 4 years, not permanently. A majority of House members (238) co-signed the bill to make the moratorium permanent. Republicans blamed the House leadership for refusing to bring this latter bill to a vote, charging that the Democrats wanted to leave the door open for future taxation. Not so, countered Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), one of the sponsors of the 4-year bill. The Senate must act on the moratorium before Nov. 1 if taxation is to be avoided, and Watt claimed that a permanent ban would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
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US House Votes To Renew Internet Tax Ban

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Especially regular old Congressional laws. Even a Constitutional amendment is amendable.
    • Sounds like you are making excuses by parsing words......
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JustinKSU (517405)
      Yes, but expiring laws force congress to re-address the issue, while it is much harder to get support for changing a non-expiry law on the books.
      • by WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:43PM (#21002375)
        Not to mention that in four years they (Congress) get to show their support for the ban all over again. Thus ensuring votes from the soundbite voters. It would be very poor politics to make the ban permanent.
        • by eonlabs (921625)
          Granted, if anyone's interested, we could start poking our senators and congressmen to push the other bill forward before this one expires. A bill stating that 'Instead of the new legislature that states the ban will remain for four years, it will remain indefinitly'

          This will arrive without the pressures that the first one has (the get it done by Nov clause)

          Thoughts?
    • Even a Constitutional amendment is amendable.
      Sometimes even ignored.

      Thou shall not speak against the president.
      WTF?? I didn't write that. Hmmm... new internet tapping laws must be filtering the tubes somehow.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      Sudden outbreak of election year politics. Notice that the ban is set to expire in 4 years, just prior to another big election year.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DaveWick79 (939388)
        Yes, but 4 years from now, voters are not going to be any more likely to be in favor of paying extra tax $$'s just because they bought something on the internet.

        The reason such a tax is brought up is because state and local government are losing sales tax revenue to Internet purchases. A far better solution would be to charge a fixed sales tax on all out of state purchases, whether via mail, phone, or internet. Funneling those revenues back to local communities would be a big pain in the butt for the vari
        • Forgive me if I am wrong, but isnt this referring to taxing internet access? Many states already collect sales tax on purchases. If they aren't collecting taxes, then Amazon definitely owes me some money.
        • by mechsoph (716782)

          A far better solution would be to charge a fixed sales tax on all out of state purchases, whether via mail, phone, or internet.

          This is what Indiana does. There's a special section on your state taxes to report out of state purchases. You can guess how effective it is.

          • Every state does this. But you nailed it, it's not effective because noone reports it unless they are already being audited.

            What needs to happen is that the selling vendor needs to report back to each state they sell to. This would be a nuisance for ebay sellers and the like, but it might possible just be enacted for sellers over a certain volume.
        • by Catmoves (1136147)
          New Mexico does not have a sales tax. It does, however, have a tax on the business selling merchandise or services. It is up to the business itself to pass the tax on, or eat it. Since businesses make a profit out of screwing one more tax into the consumer, they pass it along to us suckers.
      • by N3WBI3 (595976)
        Despite the media and political parties attempts to make it otherwise *this* is not an election year. The election is 13 months away and while many are focused on the presidential primaries most house and senate races have not even had all potential candidates throw their hat in a ring.

        I wish to God that the trend of pushing 'election' coverage further and further back will reverse itself. We have many US senators (Hillary, Obama, McCain) some Governors (Richardson), and some congressmen (Paul) all spending
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brandybuck (704397)
      It's not common sense. Over half the members of congress co-signed the bill to make the moratorium permanent, but they STILL couldn't get it out to the floor for a vote. That's nuts.
      • by N3WBI3 (595976)
        Well it happens thats why committees have such power in the legislative branch. The Dems used it to prevent Judges from getting a vote on the floor they would have overwhelmingly won. The republics will pull similar tactics when it suite them..

        Most of all they get used for grandstanding 'ie Hillary calling a General on the carpet as untrustworthy'
    • Not quite, maybe in this limited instance. But why is it that the default is taxation unless a bill is passed to ban taxation for some time period? Since when did the government gain the right to claim our money by default? It is our money and it is the government's privilege to be able to tax us, not the other way around.

      And while we're on the subject of taxes, I still say that the income tax is unconstitutional. Sure they got an amendment passed, but they had to con us to do it. Let's hear it for the Fair
      • by N3WBI3 (595976)
        But why is it that the default is taxation unless a bill is passed to ban taxation for some time period? Since when did the government gain the right to claim our money by default?

        Its for the Children, some progressives wont be happy until we are all servants of the state...

        Any government strong enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to steal everything you have.

        • But why is it that the default is taxation unless a bill is passed to ban taxation for some time period? Since when did the government gain the right to claim our money by default?


          Its for the Children, some progressives wont be happy until we are all servants of the state...


          Any government strong enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to steal everything you have.

          hehe, you're absolutely right. :)
  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:24PM (#21002153) Homepage Journal
    that is. 2012. i wonder if house members know shit that we dont.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:28PM (#21002203)
    ...is like worrying about "vulnerabilities" exploitable only by root. It's cosmetics. They can revoke this law and bring a new one that taxes the net if they wish so. Banning themselves from doing something at a later time is totally futile when they can just change their mind.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      except it isn't group think. So now you have to have enough member who want to repeal this temp. law, and then add taxing.
      It also puts it aside for four years, so they don't have a vote on it every year.

      Standard Politics

    • by robkill (259732) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:33PM (#21002265)
      RTFA -

      It is a federal law banning state and local governments from taxing the net. That is useful to prevent artificial "tariff boundaries" that have no real relevance. Of course the definition of physical presence in a state for sales tax still applies, but that becomes an issue only for large web vendors with distribution centers (or other such offices) in multiple states.
      • by N3WBI3 (595976)
        Actually most state sales taxes are primarily owed by the consumer (a store is just the middle man) If I go to a neighboring state to buy a car because they have no sales tax legally I owe the state I live in what I would have paid..
      • by DrMat (1175347)
        That's great. Just in time. Major Villaraigosa (sp?) in Los Angeles is getting ready to impose a 9% tax on VOIP in LA County. Is he effectively stopped by this law I wonder?
    • Why ban it permanently, when they can ensure that they'll be "lobbied" again 4 years from now.
  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:42PM (#21002353) Journal
    ... I don't see a problem with a tax for internet access. It is a service and is very similar to many other goods or services on which a tax is charged. I just don't see how this would be news whether or not it passed. If it did pass, I would expect to pay an extra two bucks for my high-speed service. Instead, I continue to save about 12 bucks annually. Sure, I wouldn't be in LOVE with the idea, but I wouldn't be surprised or outrageously put-off by the idea.

    I think for this to be newsworthy, an internet tax would need to be proposed based off of the amount of network traffic produced (Like I could see some uninformed politicians proposing in order to keep the "tubes" cleaner). In doing so, anyone dealing with high volume transfer (e.g. Walmart Photo Center, Video and flash developers, youtube) would be forced to grind to a halt, however this is not the case.
    • they're taxes. Where does the money go, that's the question.

      Help with a national health care plan? sure. Help with alternative fuel and carbon extraction RnD? sure. 2 bucks to give Wal-mart a tax break? not so much.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by phantomlord (38815)
        If you consider that taxation is an encroachment on your (monetary) freedom, then taxation is a limit on freedom. As such, there should need to be a justification in exchange for the limitation of your freedom. Paying the police and fire department? Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people can agree reasonable taxation to provide for that is fair. Sin taxes to try to control someone else's behavior? Not so good, IMO. Everything in between is subjective and, as such, should be left to states and local communities to p
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ppanon (16583)
          Paying the police and fire department? Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people can agree reasonable taxation to provide for that is fair. Sin taxes to try to control someone else's behavior? Not so good, IMO.
          Does paying the police/defense department include supporting the War on Drugs, secret wiretaps "to catch terrorists". Because you know what, those are all about trying to control someone's behaviour too (as, fundamentally, is all of police/justice work).

          A lot of people would disagree and think that sin taxes fu
          • Police and fire departments are generally local organizations. I know of no national fire department, do you? The FBI, DEA, ATF, etc are federal police agencies, yes, but most people refer to them as feds or by department rather than the generic police. Local cops never solve things like murder and rape, they're all just eating doughnuts until they can find your stash. I'm waiting for the fire department to tap my phone too since you include them with the wire tapping agencies.

            Careful with the sin taxes
            • by ppanon (16583)
              My point is that law enforcement is all about behaviour modification too. Law enforcement and sin taxes are two different tools to achieve similar goals.

              It doesn't make sense to charge large taxes on someone stealing or committing murder. However there are certain behaviours that are currently dealt with through police/criminal enforcement that could be better addressed through taxation and education to encourage behaviour modification.

              If people are committing antisocial or self-destructive behaviour, it's
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by phantomlord (38815)
                The problem with sin taxes is once you start taxing based on perceived negative behavior, you set a precedent to tax other perceived negative behaviors. Sin tax on using net access for more than two hours a day(because you might be at home playing WoW, eating junk food and are likely to have coronary disease)? Sin tax for eating fast food (such as buying a salad at McDonalds while that all you can eat spaghetti over at the local italian joint isn't subject)? Sin taxes (beyond generic sales tax) on all that
                • by sethstorm (512897) *

                  What's wrong with charities, church groups, 12 step programs, etc?

                  Exhibit 1 [wikipedia.org]
                  Exhibit 2 [wikipedia.org]
                  Exhibit 3 [wikipedia.org]
                  I can come up with more

                  What you advocate is saying the government should be the one contractor that you can hire to build your house (because he'll work for no extra charge)

                  For pennies more, then you get into circumventing your own nation on your side. Maybe I could suggest you get a business friendly lawyer [cohenlaw.com] to avoid those pesky citizens.

                  If there's one regulation worth getting rid of, get rid of Taft-Hartley. It amounts to not much more than slave labor.

                  (see the farce known as public schools).

                  See the problem with selective admissions in any form of education. Ironic that to get out of the problem, another one is created (selectivity).

                  • I can come up with more

                    So if I enumerate several government programs which are abusive and are run like shit, it means the entire government is abusive and runs like shit and therefore are incapable of helping anyone? I know that if I don't like a charity or church, I can give my money to someone else... do you know how I can give my money to a competing government if I don't like the way it's run?

                    (see the farce known as public schools). See the problem with selective admissions in any form of education. Ironic that to get out of the problem, another one is created (selectivity).

                    So the implication is that if we got rid of private schools, public schools would suddenly start turning out 99% graduation rates fu

                    • by ppanon (16583)
                      I know that if I don't like a charity or church, I can give my money to someone else... do you know how I can give my money to a competing government if I don't like the way it's run?
                      Yes, you can vote to replace your government with someone who will cancel the program you hate so much.

                      What's that you say? You're outvoted and still have to pay taxes, something that doesn't happen in the private/religious sector?

                      Hmm, I guess you stopped getting telephone service in the 70's and also wouldn't have bought gas f
        • by Serengeti (48438)

          "If you consider that taxation is an encroachment on your (monetary) freedom"

          Which you shouldn't. Taxes are not encroachments on your monetary freedom any more than the local park is built just for your families enjoyment.

          The GP had a good point... where money goes is the issue. Taxes can act as funding for public projects, or as subsidies to encourage various business methods. Both, theoretically, should be good for the public, but when you're introducing a new tax, you should be pretty clear about the

        • "Everything in between is subjective and, as such, should be left to states and local communities to prevent 218 Representatives + 51 Senators + 1 President from imposing burdensome ideologies on the tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of people who don't support those ideologies."

          So I guess you don't live in a democracy then, because in a democracy the idea is that the government should represent as many points of view as possible, and where your view differs from the government you should suck up and deal b
          • So I guess you don't live in a democracy then, because in a democracy the idea is that the government should represent as many points of view as possible, and where your view differs from the government you should suck up and deal because, ideally, that means that most of society also disagrees.

            Of course, this doesn't work in America any more because American politics these days is six kinds of stupid, which is my way of saying that I'm sick of talking about exactly how messed up it is.

            I live in a Constitutional Republic where we're supposed to have a weak federal government that mostly ensures basic rights (such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and regulates interstate and foreign affairs. See, the founders of this country knew that true democracy ended up in the tyranny of the majority where 50.1% of the people can vote to hang the other 49.9% and that a government with unbridled power was a government with unbridled power to control it's citizens. Everyone who advocates

        • Paying the police and fire department?

          Even that doesn't fly. Where I live, there was an advisory question on the ballot asking of people would support some minuscule tax increase to hire more firefighters, police officers, and buy a fire truck or two to serve the expansion of the city. It came back with a huge "NO". I'm sure the city will do it anyway - it would be irresponsible not to - but I don't think people get any farther than the word "tax" and instantly say no.
        • by snarfer (168723)
          "taxation is a limit on freedom"

          So is cleaning your room. Go eat your vegetables.

          God, I can't stand libertarians.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nsayer (86181) *
        Taxes are bad for many, many reasons. Not least of which is that they empower the government. The government should have sufficient power to keep the peace, and that's all. Any more power than that always winds up finding the wrong hands (of course people will disagree on whose hands those are) and making us all worse off.
      • by wikinerd (809585)

        Taxes are neither good nor bad

        A tax is a statement by an armed man: Give me your money (to do what I want with it, which I promise you I will use for good purpose) or I'll imprison you or kill you. Taxes are enforced by violence. If violence is a bad thing, then taxes are bad as well. But just as violence can have positive consequences sometimes, eg if used for self-defence against a criminal when attacked and no other methods are available, likewise taxes can have positive consequences as well (funding hospitals, schools, the nece

    • by getnate (518090)
      I am pretty sure your internet access is already taxed as a sales tax in your local state (unless you live in Alaska, Delware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon but your local city could still have sales tax). This law will ban taxes by on goods and services bought over the internet and between states.
    • I thought we already "paid" for the internet, in the form of giving a very limited subset of companies a government granted monopoly on the infrastructure to provide said internet.
      • Don't forget that we also paid for a lot of that infrastructure, which makes your point even more valid.
    • I don't see a problem with a tax for internet access

      Fine, take $5 each month and flush it down your toilet.

      Its the equivalent of giving the federal government your tax payment -- same end result. You're out $5, and the money's been wasted on accomplishing absolutely nothing.
    • How about a tax on people in the city to make sure people out in the 'burbs and rural areas can get their internet service without having to pay the extra cost of wiring low-density areas? We could just add it to the list of covert subsidies for unfair, environmentally-destructive low-density living.
    • I don't see a problem with a tax for internet access.

      I dunno. I see a problem with all taxes until we have a balance budget again by decreasing government spending.

      Of course this might involve ending a war that costs $400 billion dollars a year.

      I pay a little over 1/4 of my income now for state, city, and federal taxes as it is so even though it wouldn't kill me to pay a few more dollars a month for internet taxes, it is salt in the wounds for a government that has no control over its spending habits.
      • In theory, a sales tax on Internet service would go to your state (or city, if it has a local sales tax), so it wouldn't be part of that wasted $400 billion. Whether or not your state does anything useful with the money depends on your state, but the budgetary disaster of the federal government isn't really a valid argument against local taxes.
    • I would expect to pay an extra two bucks
      Is this supposed to be humor?

      I looked at my phone bill last weekend. The phone service costs $35 and the voice mail costs $8. The total bill, after adding the "taxes": $63. You figure it.

      Cell phone bill? Same sort of silliness.

      An internet bill would likely work the same way as regards taxes.
    • So what you're saying is that we can take as much of your salary away for the "public good" as we want, and you don't really care what the money is used for, as long as it's done in $2/month line items?
    • If it did pass, I would expect to pay an extra two bucks for my high-speed service.

      Well, maybe that's what you'd expect, but that's not what you'd get.

      Way back when, I decided to downgrade my landline to the lowest possible cost. After all, my wife and I both have cellphones for outgoing calls. What do we need to pay $50/mo for a landline for? I called Verizon and asked what their cheapest possible plan was. Unless you are low-income, the cheapest plan was $7. I am not low income, so I oped for $7/mo.

      Time goes by and I get my first phone bill under the new rate. I figured it'd be a

    • Every time a new tax is proposes, all the supporters come out and say it's no big deal if it's only a buck or two. But it never, ever stays at those levels. Income tax was suppose to only be a 1% tax for the richest and look how out of control that's gotten. The George Washington bride in NY started off with a 25 cent toll that was suppose to go away once it was payed off. Well it's been paid off and now it's a $6 toll. Do much traveling? 25% to 50% of those tickets just go to taxes. You add up all the taxe
  • What poppycock. We're not talking about a constitutional amendment here. The suggestion that congress couldn't undo a tax ban that has no sunset date later is just laughable - particularly when it involves the prospect of further picking the taxpayer's pockets (which we know politicians have no qualms about doing).

  • Of course they're not doing it permanently, that way there would be no fund raising on this issue in four years.
  • While people who haven't read any of the REAL news sources on this bill are saying yay! Free no taxation! There is a new element in the works that's pretty evil.

    The Teleco lobbyists have pushed (with the backing of the FBI) for VOIP to be taxable, so they'll still have to examine your packets and have funding/access to your conversations over the net.

    I wish some politicians or news agencies in the U.S. would put up stronger resistence to this kind of backdoor shenanigans... but what do I know.
  • Congress or anyone else for that matter should not have any control over the internet. In Estonia, WiFi is available in gas stations, and they seem to have advanced technologically and economically since the Singing Revolution, (I just saw a website about Estonia's Singing Revolution - http://singingrevolution.com./ [singingrevolution.com.] Estonia's government does not impose any restrictions on the internet, and if congress decides to tax users it will hurt progress.

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