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New York Wants To Tax Internet Downloads 485

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bits-for-bucks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "NY is considering taxing 'video and music' downloads to offset a burgeoning budget deficit." How long before we all have meters on our routers? This version is just a 4% tax on movies and songs downloaded from services like iTunes, but I'm sure if they could figure out a bit tax, they would.
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New York Wants To Tax Internet Downloads

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  • Old news is old (Score:4, Informative)

    by superbus1929 (1069292) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:37PM (#26873461) Homepage
    This is nothing new; they've been talking about this for months, maybe over a year. It's caused issues with Amazon in the past, if I remember right.
    • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShawnCplus (1083617) <shawncplus@gmail.com> on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:40PM (#26873497) Homepage
      Most online retailers hate New York because we have horrible taxes, I believe NewEgg stopped requiring users to pay the tax in NY which caused them some issues. This will only exacerbate the intertube hatred of NY
      • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Smidge207 (1278042) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:47PM (#26873595) Journal

        *sigh* I agree...BUT: Why should there be a tax on Internet traffic for any reason? I mean a true, cogent reason? New York has contributed nothing so why should it profit from that which it has contributed nothing to? Secondly it offers no protectionism. This is taxation without representation. Thirdly how much tax dollars is wasted in New York and given to the rich? Fourth what is the purpose of a Federal Tax deduction if it's going to be added to state and local taxes? Fifth if New York is going to raise taxes then it shouldn't get any bailout money because it contradicts what the Federal Government is doing?

        There needs to be correspondence between what the Fed does and State and Local Governments are doing in order for the stimulus to work. We can't pull two different directions. Taxing downloads is an invasion of privacy anyway. It's not about pr0n it's about taxation without representation. The reality is tax money as well as tax deductions are given to corporations for the purposes of conventions centers and etc... which does nothing for the areas except deplete taxes for the purpose of benefiting rich corporations. They claim to make jobs, however the jobs do not pay a living wage and further taxes the economy through social programs.

        Enough is enough!

        =Smidge=

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:53PM (#26873699)

          New York has contributed nothing so why should it profit from that which it has contributed nothing to?

          Nonsense. New York has given us Credit Default Swaps.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is taxation without representation.

          I beg to differ: This is taxation by our representation, at least for those in New York. Please refrain from hyperbole.

          Now, whether or not the entire NY State Congress should be first against the wall when the revolution comes is another matter entirely *grin*.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            Now, whether or not the entire NY State Congress should be first against the wall when the revolution comes is another matter entirely *grin*.

            If you want to put the New York State Legislature up against the wall after the revolution you'd have a lot of New Yorkers volunteering to serve on the firing squad. Can we start with Sheldon Silver?

        • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dreadneck (982170) on Monday February 16, 2009 @03:08PM (#26875493)

          New York has contributed nothing so why should it profit from that which it has contributed nothing to?

          This amounts to nothing more than a sales tax on internet commerce. Don't act so surprised. You didn't honestly think government was going to sit idly by, forever passing up yet another opportunity to milk taxpayers for all they're worth, did you?

          On a different note, I found the following excerpt from TFA quite hilarious.

          But not everyone is on board with the idea of profiting off porn. The chairman of New York's Conservative Party says that taxing it legitimizes it.

          The National Republican Congressional Committee had no problem taking money from the porn industry [cbsnews.com] at a 2005 fundraiser attended by President Bush.

          Christian evangelical leaders called for an explanation. The only one they got, at least in public, was from a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, who said: "We'll take that money and use it to elect more Republicans."

          I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning. It smells like... politics.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NIckGorton (974753) *
          For several reasons:

          1. Money spent on cyber-crap takes away from irl-crap purchased in NY state. Who would pay $107 for your books at a brick and mortar bookstore when you can get them for $100 for them (with free shipping) on amazon.com?
          2. Poor people don't have the wherewithal to purchase things on the internet. So taxing goods purchased irl while not taxing cyperspace transactions becomes a very regressive tax.
      • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Interesting)

        by causality (777677) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:00PM (#26873839)

        Most online retailers hate New York because we have horrible taxes, I believe NewEgg stopped requiring users to pay the tax in NY which caused them some issues. This will only exacerbate the intertube hatred of NY

        You wouldn't think that a state could tax interstate trade, but if NewEgg (which appears to operate out of California) really did experience "issues" then I have a solution to that. Nothing would get the attention of the state of New York quite like every out-of-state online retailer refusing to sell to any NY resident or to ship items to a NY address. When customers complain, refer them to the problems NewEgg experienced and encourage them to take it up with the NY state legislature. The point is to make this an utter failure. That's definitely in our interests because if NY does this successfully, you can count on other states following suit.

        If this happened, I doubt it would have to happen more than once to put an end to this sort of BS. Just imagine the precedent it would set.

        • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Informative)

          by quanticle (843097) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:11PM (#26873995) Homepage

          Well, the precedent would last until some retailer sued the state in federal court on the exact grounds you've brought up - regulation of interstate commerce is a matter explicitly reserved by the federal government.

        • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Informative)

          by FireStormZ (1315639) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:15PM (#26874051)

          "You wouldn't think that a state could tax interstate trade"

          A little known fact is that the 'sales tax' is more a 'use tax'. If someone in NY drives to PA to by cloths and save the tax money they are legally required to pay NY taxes on it (few actually do this). This is why NY (outside of the City) is dying, its not just Buffalo but everywhere except Albany (seat of state government) is hurting. Taxes in NY are just way to high for business to start setting up shop and competing with neighboring states.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            California has the same thing, I just found out. We are required to cite "out of state" purchases that we didn't pay sales taxes on and pay sales tax on it. It is very, very stupid.

        • Hey, Atlas... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kylben (1008989)

          Nothing would get the attention of the state of New York quite like every out-of-state online retailer refusing to sell to any NY resident or to ship items to a NY address.

          *shrug*

        • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ADRA (37398) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:43PM (#26874387)

          Maybe I'm just lame with your annoying legal policies, but I fail to see how materially, a tax shouldn't be applied on internet purchases vs. store-fronts. In fact, by not supporting online taxation, your punishing local retailers that are legally obligated to charge you.

          If this keeps up, you'll simply speed up the death of all brick and mortar stores and further kill your dwindling retail markets. It may not be SOOO bad for the consumer (besides the ability to walk into a store and purchase something), but It'll mean a hell of a lot less jobs for those retail peeps.

          • Re:Old news is old (Score:5, Insightful)

            by qbzzt (11136) on Monday February 16, 2009 @02:03PM (#26874649)

            Maybe I'm just lame with your annoying legal policies, but I fail to see how materially, a tax shouldn't be applied on internet purchases vs. store-fronts. In fact, by not supporting online taxation, your punishing local retailers that are legally obligated to charge you.

            Local retailers receive a bunch of services from the local and state governments: police protection, roads, etc. Internet retailers do not.

            Besides, it's reasonable for a local retailer to support one taxing jurisdiction. It isn't reasonable for an internet retailer to support thousands of us.

          • Re:Old news is old (Score:4, Insightful)

            by andymadigan (792996) <amadigan@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday February 16, 2009 @02:10PM (#26874755)
            Mechanization of manufacturing meant a lot of lost jobs. The progress of technology will always mean some jobs are lost. Our overall efficiency increases, however.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            >>>Maybe I'm just lame with your annoying legal policies, but I fail to see how materially, a tax shouldn't be applied on internet purchases vs. store-fronts.
            >>>

            Based upon your answer I'm going to assume you are non-American. For the New York Legislature to force a California or other state business to file taxes with New York, is equivalent to the British parliament collecting taxes from a German business. Just as a German citizen is not subject to foreign British taxation, neither is a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          >>>if NewEgg (which appears to operate out of California) really did experience "issues" then I have a solution to that. Nothing would get the attention of the state of New York quite like every out-of-state online retailer refusing to sell to any NY resident
          >>>

          I have a better solution. As a PA ebay seller I'm supposed to file sales tax forms with New York State. I continue selling to NY residents, but to the NY Legislature I say, "Fuck off. No taxation without representation in your le

    • Re:Old news is old (Score:4, Informative)

      by larry bagina (561269) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:49PM (#26873627) Journal
      They've been talking about it for a while, but it's different than the amazon tax. Amazon (and other mail order/internet stores) don't collect sales tax if they don't have a physical presence in the state. New York wanted to reclassify affiliate programs so that Amazon (and anyone else with an affiliate in New York) would need to collect NY state sales tax.
  • The upside (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Warll (1211492) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:38PM (#26873471) Homepage
    The upside of them metering one's bandwidth use would be that many people would start taking action over their windows zombie box.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Since 99% of home users don't understand what is going on, all it would mean is more computers would be going to the shop for simple cleanings.

      • Interesting. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:55PM (#26873751)

        If more boxes are going to the shop to be cleaned, that means those shops would be hiring more cleaning techs. At least in theory.

        Not to mention the sales tax on the cleaning service.

        So, all in all, this just MIGHT help their local economy.

        • Re:Interesting. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cgenman (325138) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:14PM (#26874041) Homepage

          So, all in all, this just MIGHT help their local economy.

          Helping local economies is about finding efficiencies and creating value where there wasn't previously. If cleaning people's computers ultimately saved them more time than the cost offset, then cleaning people's machines would help the local economy. My suspicion is that it would ultimately just be a drain... a tax on the uneducated that pays out to Best Buy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by quanticle (843097)

        More likely, we'd see more computers going to the landfills, as users realize that its almost as cheap to purchase a new computer as to have the one you own serviced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Renraku (518261)

      The downside would be that you actually pay for those 5MB webpages that would be 300k without the annoying advertisements everywhere.

  • by mc1138 (718275) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:38PM (#26873479) Homepage
    New York taxes everything, a lot of it has to do with the maintenance of New York City. They get subsidies from all sorts of things, taxes, bus fares, chances are if you buy something in New York, some of that money goes to New York City. In fact, even living in New York City is taxed.
  • by kseise (1012927) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:38PM (#26873481)
    No tax on torrents? Cool! Bye Bye iTunes.
    • I foresee a new breed of download revenue agents. This would inspire a group of people to increase the performance of the Internet connections to stay ahead. Soon after the pirates would compete, and 20 years later, Geek NASCAR!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by causality (777677)

      No tax on torrents? Cool! Bye Bye iTunes.

      That might make torrents a lot more dangerous for NY residents. Now, instead of being the civil tort of copyright infringement, it could be criminal tax evasion. I'm definitely not a lawyer so this is just my unqualified opinion, but this is exactly the sort of thing I've come to expect from government.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Aladrin (926209)

        If that were true they'd get all thieves on tax evasion, and as far as I know, they've never ever charged one with tax evasion for not paying the tax on a product they stole.

  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:39PM (#26873491) Journal
    I would happily forward 4% of the bits that comes into my router to the NY city hall if that can help them balance their budget.
  • The federal government could help the states by setting up an official repository of rates and an official reporting system standard for all 50 states [codemonkeyramblings.com]. Just get the states to report their rates to the IRS, and have the IRS mandate a single, unified standard method of reporting sales taxes to all state governments on an "either you implement this, or you don't collect it" basis.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wkk2 (808881)
      It would be nice if there was a single federal e-form with a box per state. What we will likely get is a complex mess that requires subscribing to a service for thousands a month. What a better way to kill small businesses.
  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:42PM (#26873527)
    . . . that forces states to pay back the money they receive from the Federal government, and puts a harsh salary and compensation cap on politicians in those states who elect to take Federal bailout funds. The likes of California and New York clearly have no concept of what it means to "spend less," and current taxpayers are fleeing by the tens of thousands, causing them to create asinine taxes like the one in TFA and causing even more people and companies to head to more tax-friendly states. A government should be forced to plan its finances like a responsible household, taking into consideration risk, debt and spending just like the rest of us have to in reality land. After all, it's our money they're spending. Why is this so hard to comprehend?
    • Because it is the frickin' Government, a government that is elected by people who now pay less and less tax. If you election strategy is to offer +50% of the electorate more services at less taxes, then you have to soak everyone else and then claim they will take it all away when election time comes.
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:14PM (#26874049) Homepage Journal

      right next to the part where Congress holds themselves to account.

      Honestly, everything you attributed to NY and California is attributable to the Federal Government. Worse, they Feds have no restraint whereas states do. The Feds aren't even bothering to try and balance the budget.

      Face it, through years of manipulation Congressmen have managed to lay the blame for all things at the feet of people who have money while themselves spending money they don't have.

      Congressmen vilify the businessman who sends his kids to private school, flies private jets, and vacations overseas, all the while doing the same thing on our dime. Congress chides the business for laying off people, losing money, or asking for money, all the while doing the same thing.

      Look, the majority has spoken, they want all they can get from those who make money while there is still some to get.
       

      • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:22PM (#26874127) Homepage
        Face it, through years of manipulation Congressmen have managed to lay the blame for all things at the feet of people who have money while themselves spending money they don't have.

        Congressmen vilify the businessman who sends his kids to private school, flies private jets, and vacations overseas, all the while doing the same thing on our dime.

        Uhh....huh? I have never understood the divorce from reality on slashdot when it comes to politics. We have had EIGHT YEARS of congressmen in control who think being wealthy is a sign of supreme virtue. Anyone who points out that extreme disparity in wealth might not be a good thing is instantly vilified as a communist. Your point of view has been the majority one for years, and it has run this country into the ground. How dare you suddenly pretend to be a persecuted minority.
    • by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:15PM (#26874053)
      New York and California pay more taxes to the fed than they receive back. You should be complaining about New Mexico, Mississippi or Alaska. http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/266.html [taxfoundation.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trojan35 (910785)

      The likes of California and New York clearly have no concept of what it means to "spend less,"

      Yes, the above tax is stupid, but your comment is pretty silly too. I've loved living in California, where a salary that pays cost of living automatically puts me in a Jumbo mortgage and a high federal income tax bracket. I didn't hear anyone complaining about CA and NY when the economy was booming and people were using my tax dollars to pay for Nebraska farmers to NOT farm their land. Wait, they still are. How abo

  • Grrrr (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LatencyKills (1213908) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:44PM (#26873545)
    I'm sick of the attitude "we've got stuff to pay for and we need to figure out how to raise revenue to do it" regardless of how they choose to raise it. Here's a novel approach to government: we've got X dollars, how can we spend it to maximize the quality of life of our citizens? I don't get to randomly pull in more money from secondary sources if I decide I want a bigger TV this year, so why should the government?
    • Re:Grrrr (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ironchew (1069966) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:53PM (#26873705)

      Time to go after the pork. Scaling the military-industrial complex down to a defensive level instead of an imperial level suddenly frees up nearly half our federal revenue. Imagine all the social programs that would benefit.

      • Re:Grrrr (Score:4, Informative)

        by schnikies79 (788746) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:06PM (#26873929)

        Social programs are pork as well.

      • That's just crazy, hippy talk.

        Seriously though, I don't see a decrease in our military spending anytime soon. Far too many people are making far too much money off it.
      • Re:Grrrr (Score:4, Insightful)

        by twiddlingbits (707452) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:12PM (#26874009)
        Troll..the defense budget is nowhere near half the Federal spending. The 2008 figures were around 18-20% of Federal spending and about 4.4% of Gross Domestic Product. If you want to find savings look at Mandated Entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and those "pork" projects each Senator sticks in the various spening bills. The funding levels for Defense are projected to DROP in the next few years while entitlement spending zooms to the moon. Add in entitlements contained in the "bailout" and we are going to have significant issues funding just the BASIC military (payroll, facilities, maintenance) we need much less R&D and procurements needed to stay current with technology. Just because the USA doesnt'/won't/can't spend enough of our budget to keep up does not mean our enemies will ease up their spending. Or maybe you want the US to be lesser?????
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Um. Defense is one of those few things in the US Constitution that is MANDATED of the federal government. Unemployment checks are not.

        IMO, the way it should go is this: We have $X dollars. We are required to do $Y and $Z, so let's do those first. After that, with our leftover money, let's do the social programs not required of us.

        Right now, the government and most Americans seem to think the other way around. Social programs are more important than the Constitutional mandated actions of the federal gov

    • Re:Grrrr (Score:5, Interesting)

      by causality (777677) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:26PM (#26874181)

      I'm sick of the attitude "we've got stuff to pay for and we need to figure out how to raise revenue to do it" regardless of how they choose to raise it. Here's a novel approach to government: we've got X dollars, how can we spend it to maximize the quality of life of our citizens? I don't get to randomly pull in more money from secondary sources if I decide I want a bigger TV this year, so why should the government?

      That's easy. There's this common misconception that politicians don't understand things like balanced budgets. They do. They're power-hungry liars but otherwise they are not stupid. They know how to play this game and they know that the average person is far too trusting and naive.

      The reason why they don't carefully spend our money and otherwise respect and honor the citizens is because there is no political power to be had by doing that. That is the nature of political power. I wish we'd be more open and honest about that instead of beating the drum of patriotism and claiming that the expansion of government is "for the children" or "for our safety". A minimal government that is fiscally responsible and leaves the citizens alone as much as possible just doesn't satisfy the sort of fevered egos who are attracted to positions of political power.

      As a side note, to get a better idea of the sort of manipulation that goes on, just research "problem, reaction, solution" which is also known as Hegel's "thesis, antithesis, synthesis". If you can notice that pattern just one time you'll start seeing it everywhere. See that and patterns like it and perhaps then you, too can experience the joy of predicting the outcome of political "debates" in the media (it's easy -- whichever prefabricated solution does the most to expand government is the one that will probably "win") for people who neither believe you nor question the high success rate of your predictions. There's just not a lot of understanding of the idea that our politicians have been going down the same path for quite some time and that they intend to travel further down that same path.

  • porn tax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:46PM (#26873591)

    TFA says that this will include a tax on porn, but not all of the lawmakers are on-board with the idea of taxing porn. Apparently taxing "legitimate" movies and music is fine, but a porn tax is bad.

    Things that make you go hmmmm....

  • Porn Taxation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:47PM (#26873597)
    From the article:

    fee on all music and video downloads â" including pornography. ... But not everyone is on board with the idea of profiting off porn. The chairman of New York's Conservative Party says that taxing it legitimizes it.

    Evidently, giving porn a tax exemption wouldn't legitimize it at all.

  • Y'know. Where ALL the money goes.

    Hmmm. Lets tax internet downloads... Genius at work. Aren't you glad your representatives are as highly effective as they are?

     

    • Yes, all the money goes there. But it turns out if you happen to need it back, they don't have any clue where it's gone, because it sure as hell isn't there anymore. As far as I can tell, to the Wall Street guys that's a feature, not bug.

  • Well, in effect us comcast users already do.

  • by Vandil X (636030) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:54PM (#26873727)
    So what they're really saying is to hit the torrent store for our online "purchases" rather then stay legit and send more tax revenue to a bunch of $100K/yr earning public servants who got NYS into this budget problem in the first place.

    I'm sure this was proposed over a $1000/plate fund-raiser dinner.
  • ...except one.

    You know...thingy.
  • No shit, sherlock. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:56PM (#26873761) Homepage

    This 4% rate is exactly identical to the state sales tax rate for everything else in New York. Hell, they're being ridiculously nice -- it's half what you'd actually pay in most cities (which add their own rate, usually in the vicinity of 3-5%, on top of the state rate).

    The fact that downloads don't get taxed in some states is a bizarre anomaly, and has no logical basis. CDs and DVDs are not exempt from sales tax, exempting their online counterparts is wildly inconsistent. Argue all you want about the merits of taxes in general or sales taxes in particular, but there's nothing remarkable here. Just a state closing a silly loophole.

    • by KyleTheDarkOne (1034046) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:59PM (#26873811)
      The main reason for taxes on good is the use of the infrastructure, the roads and the like for the movement of goods, as well as to get money, but downloads don't actually provide any wear on the infrastructure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Half?!? Last time I bought a book in Manhattan, there was an 18% sales tax on it! Face it -- NYC is in a downward spiral. The internet makes it easy to do business anywhere, so all those that reap a net benefit from the socialist policies remain, while all those that are subsidizing these policies are getting the hell out as fast as they can relocate. And yes, California has the same problem, which is why I moved to Oregon back in 1995. Oregon has it's own problems, but the state is run an order of magnitud
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:56PM (#26873767)

    State, Local & Federal governments have been as irresponsible as the financial sector they set the rules for and then didn't oversee, probably because of donations and revolving door employment between government and the companies in that sector.

    They have never admitted that taxes can be too large and stifle investment and productivity.

    Reagan showed that it was possible to stimulate activity by lowering taxes, but now all we are hearing is raising taxes. Nowhere have I yet heard anything about reducing government spending programs.

    The mega-push for Socialism has reached steam-roller stage.

    • by CRCulver (715279)
      The countries with the highest standard of living in the world have tax rates considerably higher than in the US. This is not an argument for simply raising taxes without a total rethink of government activity, but it does suggest that lowering taxes is running in the wrong direction.
  • So you just buy your itunes from an off shore account ( no tax ) then FTP your file home.

  • I understand the need for Taxes. I'm willing to pay taxes. There is a benefit of the state providing some services.

    Your problem is that you've run out of money. Yes, you can ask the citizenry to give you more money, but then what happens when you erroneously spend that money?

    Budget shortfalls are a symptom of poor budget expenditure. Yes, New York state likely is receiving less funding than it was previously, but that also means that services are not being used to the extent that they were previously. Make

  • There's no way to revive it. As REM had foreseen [stlyrics.com], the world we knew has ended, and now we're just drifting until a new wind catches our sails.

    If the Federal government would just fix the debt problem [realitysandwich.com], all these other problems would rapidly fix themselves.

  • Federal Law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SheldonLinker (231134)

    NY and you are ignoring three very basic points:

    1) The US Constitution prohibits states from taxing anything crossing state lines.
    2) A server can be located anywhere.
    3) People will minimize their tax paid.

    If NY puts this law into effect, then the affected servers will be moved out of state, and no tax will be due or collected.

    As a side-note, we produce and sell packaged software. We're in California. We get sales-tax returns mailed to us from Louisiana. We throw them out, unopened.

    • by IANAAC (692242)

      The US Constitution prohibits states from taxing anything crossing state lines.

      So what do you call the taxes levied on alcohol and cigarettes? Those have state taxes slapped on them too.

  • Just redefine what the meaning of "is" IS... this seemed to work well for our former President Clinton...
    Instead of downloading something that YOU bought and now own. You are renting/licensing code or essentially just using someone else's property under contract.

    If the tax man decides to tax bandwidth useage (electric-meter style), just imagine how expensive the NetFlix movies will now cost via mail since nearly every DVD movie disc is just over 7GB+ each!
    (Reminds me of the phrase "never underestimat
  • Hate to Say it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ticklemeozmo (595926) <justin DOT j DOT novack AT acm DOT org> on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:06PM (#26873941) Homepage Journal
    I hate to be that curmudgeon old fart, but once they get something, they don't give it back.  And once they start taxing something, it's easier for you to accept new taxes.

    But just read and grasp what the whole concept of this is here.  NY wants to TAX you for NOT shopping in their state.  You want to save money by buying online, they want to TAX you for saving money.

    I'm not going to get into any Republican vs Democrat ideals here; I just want everyone in NY to understand what is fundamentally happening.  You exercised your right as a consumer to not shop somewhere, and you are being charged for it.
  • Obvious Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jchawk (127686) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:35PM (#26874285) Homepage Journal

    And I'll probably get marked troll for this...

    But spend less money. Stop trying to tax us to death.

  • by bcwright (871193) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:36PM (#26874299)

    Since this is a "4% tax" it sounds like they must be planning to levy it as a sales tax to be collected by any vendors who have to collect New York sales tax for transactions within the state; otherwise it doesn't make any sense to talk about "4%". One alternative would perhaps be that it could be a bandwidth tax to be collected by all of the New York ISP's - which would be more collectible: in most cases, your ISP certainly knows where you live even if (as in the case of wireless) it's only where you receive your bill.

    But if it's going to be a standard sales tax, that raises all sorts of other problems. Most obviously, it provides a significant disincentive for companies selling downloads to locate in New York; it would be hard for them to collect tax from some company based in Canada, for example. But it also raises the question of how a company knows who they're dealing with; with many payment options, the customer's location need not be given, and since this is an Internet download if the company does ask for an address it would be easy enough for the customer to enter an out-of-state address to avoid paying the tax, and the company would never be the wiser. If the state requires them to use IP addresses to determine the customer's tax liability, it can often be difficult to determine the exact state for an IP address in a border area or in many other situations, and doesn't even address the problem of proxy servers that might be used deliberately or otherwise to avoid paying the tax.

    Since the TFA is rather short on specifics, it's hard to tell how unworkable this might be, though whenever the Legislature - any Legislature - is in session, hare-brained schemes abound. It does sound like they're trying to see just how many people they can annoy with this kind of law.

  • As a New Yorker (Score:3, Informative)

    by wideBlueSkies (618979) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:39PM (#26874349) Journal

    This guy is going to have his 1 partial term in office and then he's going to fade into the background when we elect ourselves a more qualified governor in a couple of years.

    The amazon tax, is illegal. I don't think it's going to last, at least I thought so.... but I've been searching for lobbying groups to join to fight the implementation of it..but can't find anyone willing to stand up and do something about it. Bunch of sheep.

    I don't know what 'taxing downloads' really means...more sales-tax? Or is the Mother-Fracker looking to tax bits/bandwidth used? The latter is kind of funny actually--he'd get a windfall in torrent derived revenue. :P

    But yeah, this guy isn't going to last in office..I can only hope that the 'process' drags on long enough so that he's out before it comes up for the proper votes.

  • by Binkleyz (175773) on Monday February 16, 2009 @02:00PM (#26874625) Journal

    The really neat question will be, IMO, things like the on-demand/live streaming service from places like Netflix and Comcast. I believe that they have physical infrastructure in NY, so that would mean they are impacted.

    The movies and TV shows that they stream DO have a value, even if that value is calculated as a fraction of the monthly subscription one pays. How much of that monthly subscription should be the basis for the tax that NY wants to collect?

    TFA is silent on this point, but I'm curious how they'd be able to implement something like that via legislation..

  • by binaryseraph (955557) on Monday February 16, 2009 @02:27PM (#26874989)
    Hey I'm fine with it if that means we can have a "Mistress" tax that applies to Mayors and Governors of NY. I'm thinking like 15% tax on the hush money they are given?
  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Monday February 16, 2009 @02:44PM (#26875201)

    The New York Yankees are getting $1.312 billion from tax-free bonds for financing their new stadium this year. The New York Mets are getting a mere $636 million from tax-free bonds to finance their new stadium this year as well. That's only $2 billion in tax-free bonds for professional baseball teams that New York City has given out this year.

    Overall, this is costing New York taxpayers alone, $1.2 billion, which includes lost revenue and infrastructure improvements (such as improving public transportation).

    Everyone is complaining that New York State taxes everything (an 18% soda tax was proposed by our governor recently) but we know that the government loves giving major giant corporations like the Yankees and Mets tons of tax-free money.
    - - - -
    Anyways, regarding online pornography, the industry brought in $2.84 billion in 2006. The cable, pay-per-view and phone sex industries brought in $2.19 billion that year. The governor merely looked at data of what business made good money (this also applies to all digital music and movie downloads) and said "how can we take some of their money for ourselves?" to his advisers. He did the same thing for online retailers like Amazon and NewEgg and said "New York State wants their money".

    And the reason that some of the government heads are objecting to taxing porno...

    "By taxing it you're legitimizing it," said Michael Long, chairman of New York's Conservative Party. "You're sending a message to the children, you're sending a message to the teenagers, if you're taxing it -- how can it be wrong? I don't know how you can sink much deeper."

    So by that logic, you shouldn't tax fatty foods, soda, beer, or cigarettes as those things are actually physically harmful but because they've been taxed, teenagers think they are legitimate and not harmful. I know when I was young, the moment I heard that they taxed cigarettes and they were legitimate (whatever the hell that means) I said "I have got to smoke me some".

    And yes, pornography is extremely harmful to all of our teenagers, my eye exams have gotten worse and worse since I first discovered adults films and other activities.

    Half of this post is serious, half is in sarcasm. Either way I haven't liked hearing the words 'New York' and 'tax' within fifteen sentences of each other for a long time. Go Mets (and tax free this season!).

  • Frankly.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NormHome (99305) on Monday February 16, 2009 @02:46PM (#26875227)

    I'm just G** D***** taxed more than enough already, taxed, fee'ed, surcharged and I'm fed up. The government has to learn to downsize, layoff, force paycuts to the highest paid workers, furloughs whatever it takes but I'm tired of the "government" constantly reaching into my pocket whenever they say "Oh revenue is down"!

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