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Florida Proposes Taxing Local LANs 637

Posted by timothy
from the please-alert-dave-barry dept.
Vellmont writes "From the state that brought you the 2000 presidential election debacle, now comes the proposal to tax your LAN. The Orlando Business Journal is reporting that the the state of Florida is thinking about putting a 9% tax on LANs within the state. Exactly what they will be taxing isn't clear, since the tax amounts to 9% of... something. Will taxing the electrical wires within your home be next?"
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Florida Proposes Taxing Local LANs

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  • by Wakko Warner (324) * on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:17PM (#6789046) Homepage Journal
    [FLORIDA]. What more can you say about a state that can't even figure out voting?
    • by killthiskid (197397) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:29PM (#6789190) Homepage Journal
      The proposal has its roots in a legislative directive handed down two years ago. It aimed to modernize how the state taxes communications.

      This ranks right up there with Minnesota regulating VOIP like a normal telephone service. [slashdot.org]

      Why the hell do law makers seem to think that every new technology needs to regulated to hell, or treated like some form of existing technology??? The internet LIVES the way it does today because it happened so damn fast than lawmakers couldn't keep up...

      The proposed rule pushes the definition of communications systems to include local area networks, or LANs, as well as wide area networks, or WANs, which connect computers across distances. Practically any office with two computers will have a local area network...
      That brings them under the purview of the proposed rule, which includes computer networks as "substitute communications systems"

      A substitue comm system? They must have needed a catch all to ensure they could screw every penny of tax of everything out there. Would this cover two tin cans with a string between them? I'd hate to see that go to court, I'm sure they'd rule it taxable.

      I can understand the need for a 'tax' on very much public infrastructures like a massive telephone land line system or cable systems... but why would you need to tax someone extra for laying out 4 pair wire? Do in house telephone systems get covered? Do you have to have a certain type of equipment to 'qualify'?

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:58PM (#6789461) Homepage Journal
        Why the hell do law makers seem to think that every new technology needs to regulated to hell, or treated like some form of existing technology??? The internet LIVES the way it does today because it happened so damn fast than lawmakers couldn't keep up...

        Okay, look, duh. It's an opportunity to make money. Why are you even asking this question? the only reason marijuana isn't legal today is that people make too much money on maintaining the status quo. This is the same thing.

        • by mini me (132455)
          the only reason marijuana isn't legal today is that people make too much money on maintaining the status quo.

          Interesting, since in Ontario it was decriminilized so more money could be made. Before you'd have to pay to house someone in jail, now they just have to collect the fine.

          If it were legal, it could be taxed like alcohol and cigarettes, so again that would be a bonus for the government. Now companies that make synthetic alternatives stand to lose something, but hemp (it lacks THC) is already lega
        • It's an opportunity to make money.

          An opportunity to make money arrised when you provide something of value in exchange for monetary remuneration. Government isn't about making money...it's about taking money. I make it, they take it. Simple.

          So, what do I get in return that's of any value? Quite simply, one could argue that the streets, police, schools, national defense (minus Ashcroft, Poindexter & Co.) etc. comprise value that I receive for my tax money. But the natural tendency is to take more and
        • Sorry for the OT post, but I wish to `correct' the previous poster's comment:

          From US history, it seems that the campaign against marijuana was not due to economic reasons (nobody important was making or losing large amount of money with it) but due to the perception that marijuana was associated with a specific racial group (African Americans) and that it had a tendency to drive people to commit violent crimes.

          So, blame lack of knowledge and racism for the ban against marijuana, not dark economic con

          • by gd23ka (324741) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @06:34AM (#6792319) Homepage
            Not really. It's more the alcoholic beverages industry as well as pharma and medical that want marijuana outlawed because it could potentially really cut into their profits. I myself have no desire to drink when I've smoked pot. In addition to that long time consumption of pot does not have by a long shot the same kind of serious health risks that alcohol consumption has. And what's even better... smoking pot gives me ideas... something the government and the moralists absolutely hate. The only thing I can think of in reply to your post is maybe they don't want healthy blacks with fresh new ideas.
        • More generally, it's an opportunity to make government bigger. This is the lawmaker's primary objective: to increase the value of their business (government) through increased spending and/or powers over the people. Logically, those who seek positions of power are not those who want to leave others alone and live in peace. These are the people who wish to control others through force, and if possible, profit off this "business model".

          Since government doesn't generate it's own revenue through voluntary trad
      • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:26PM (#6789682)
        Why the hell do law makers seem to think that every new technology needs to regulated to hell, or treated like some form of existing technology??? The internet LIVES the way it does today because it happened so damn fast than lawmakers couldn't keep up...

        Communications has traditionally been (in the US and elsewhere) quite regulated. The reasons are logical in general, he who has the wires, holds a monopoly. People who have monopolies are dangerous to consumers. I agree with that, in fact I think all monopolies are dangerous and inherently bad for a country and the gov't should sponsor competitors to monopolies wherever possible. But I digress.

        There is a common misconception that ALL communications is thus monopoly like, and subject to regulation. They try to do this with VOIP, internet traffic etc. They have lost site of the INTENTION of regulation, which is to protect consumers against dangerous monopolies. This is exagerrated by regulated monopolies (telco's, cable co's etc) which would be forced to compete with cheaper alternatives. They fuel the fire and confuse the issues. VoIP for example is a major annoyance to telco's at the moment, as it might allow cable companies (for example) to deliver voice service without the normal federal regulation. This is ridiculous of course, and spoken by people who know better and wish to hide the fact that almost EVERY wired network connection in the world is regulated by at least one gov't agency, and the cost of regulation is passed on to the buyer. The internet (not that I'd necessary use this for business class VOIP mind you) is just as much subject to regulation as anything else. The issue here is that you're not paying $24/month on phone service in addition to your data. So these groups are constantly lobbying any politician who will listen about how unfair things are. A politicians education on many issues may consist ONLY of parties interested in changing something, and regrettebly money plays a lot into who he listens to most.

        Politicians on the other hand are given the unenviable job of solving various government crises with the tools at their disposal. They can solve financial problems by cutting or taxing. If they choose to cut, they must select something to cut, and face public wrath. If they choose to tax they must face the wrath only of the public affected. So this relatively creative guy (ignorant perhaps) decided he's going to tax "LANs". How many people have LANs? Few individuals. Those individuals use them at work probably, but hey, that's someone elses pocket. So now he fixes a financial snafu AND pleases a local telco. The public won't argue, he probably gets some in pocket, this is a winner, right?

        I love how impassioned politicians get during their campaigns about ideals and visions. Democrats and Republicans argue about the most inane things and come off sounding as if they are opposite poles of the universe. Whoever gets elected usually pulls one or two publicity stunts to show the world how he follows his ideal and spends most of his time with it. Simultaneously the ideal falls by the wayside on every other issue in the interests of time, image and greed. I'm not saying I believe they're all evil like satan, but most of their actions can be understood.

        Somehow it's up to us to fix this, but how....

        • by saden1 (581102)
          Here's the taxes for my current cell phone bill:

          TAXES, SURCHARGES AND REGULATORY FEES
          -----------------
          Description Amount
          FEDERAL TAX = $2.13
          STATE TAX = $6.22
          CITY TAX = $3.75
          911 SURCHARGE = $0.50
          STATE ENHANCED 911 = $0.20
          UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY CHARGE = $1.37
          TOTAL TAXES, SURCHARGES & REGULATORY FEES = $14.17

          I can understand the 911 charges and they seem reasonable but it seems that everyone wants their cut. The city, state, and the feds want to take me to the bank.

          My cable bill shouldn't look like t
      • by coyote-san (38515) on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:31PM (#6789723)
        Don't be so quick to dismiss all regulations as unnecessary interference. Some are nothing but lobbyists freezing out the competition, but others addressed real problems.

        The bottom line is if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and is being baked with an orange glaze and served to hungry diners, it's a duck. Paypal is a bank and the sooner it is treated as one the better off everyone will be -- too many people have been burned by arbitrary and opaque dispute resolution policies. VoIP that replaces conventional phone service *is* phone service and the users need to have the same protections (e.g., against unauthorized wiretaps, arbitrary charge dispute resolutions, etc.) as regular phone service users, etc.
    • by sterno (16320) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:34PM (#6789252) Homepage
      Actually, as it turns out, because of some voting confusion, for every LAN installation, you'll be expected to pay approximately 9% of Pat Buchanan to the state of Florida. Pat Buchanan could not be reached for comment.
    • by fmileto (533185) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:55PM (#6789440) Homepage
      I believe a H. Simpson captured it in the phrase "Florida. That's America's wang."
  • Maybe I have missed somthing but...

    Why ?
    • Because it wasn't taxed yet
      • by jc42 (318812) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:49PM (#6789391) Homepage Journal
        Because it wasn't taxed yet

        Where do you live?

        Around here, when we were first permitted to get to the Internet via a phone line, there was already a tax on every phone bill. Then the cable folks supplied Internet service, and part of every cable bill is a tax. I've bought a few wires (thin ethernet first, then the hub that the vendors have forced on us for the last few years, all to connect a few home computers, and part of every purchase is a tax.

        We need electricity to run our computers, and part of every electric bill is - you guessed it - a tax.

        So what they're talking about is a special, higher tax for those of us on the Net. Every little bit of the net has been taxed right from the start; they just want networks taxed even higher than any other sort of comm or power equipment.

        • by TotallyUseless (157895) <tot@NosPAm.mac.com> on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:33PM (#6789737) Homepage Journal
          Even worse, this has nothing to do with being on the 'net, as in internet. From what I can tell, even if your network isn't connected to the internet, you are still liable for the LAN tax. I fail to understand what it is that they even think they are trying to tax. This is one of the most outgrageous tax plans I've ever heard of. It's reasoning for existence doesn't even have a basis in reality. How can they tax you for sending packets internally? The whole thing sounds like it was cooked up by one of those people that doesnt even know what a network, much less the internet is.

          'Oh, so they have the internet on computers now do they?'

          I think that quote about sums up this plan.

          • by jc42 (318812) on Monday August 25, 2003 @10:17PM (#6790490) Homepage Journal
            To put it in perspective, we might note that there is a long history of this sort of tax on personal things that don't affect others. The general term is "luxury tax".

            Some of these taxes have been rather extreme. In several histories, I've read the claim that the biggest documented improvement in human health was in the UK early in the 1800's, when Parliament repealed the luxury tax on soap. Just think about that one for a moment ...

            "Those people are all so smelly; I don't know how they stand it."

            A special tax just for the privelege of having your two computers talk to each other is small stuff in comparison.

      • by The Monster (227884) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:59PM (#6789483) Homepage
        Because it wasn't taxed yet
        Huh? I must have missed something. You mean they don't collect sales tax on hubs, switches, routers, Cat 5 cable & sundries? You mean that the people who install that stuff don't pay income tax? Where the WAN is traversing copper owned by the telcos, is it exempt from the special taxes they're already paying?

        This reminds me of the bizarre logic that was used by advocates of the 'Intangibles' tax we collect here in KS. They said that if you invested your money in farm land

        Gotta include the farmers if you want something passed in the Land of Ahs
        you'd pay property taxes on it, but if you just put it in the bank and 'clipped coupons'
        That's populist code for the idle rich, who don't do 'honest work', which is apparently defined as something that gets you smelling like the cattle that outnumber the humans in this state, never you mind that without investors, there aren't any new jobs created for people to honestly, or even 'dishonestly' work (by using their brains instead of their muscles)
        you don't pay them, so it's only fair to tax intangibles too.

        This reasoning completely ignores the fact that the capital that your investment goes to is already subject to property tax, and taxing intanbibles qua intangibles is double taxation, just as taxing computer networks is as well.

        Before anyone clicks on the Reply to This link to pipe up that it's double taxation on the telcos too... yes, it is. It's an extra tax they pay in exchange for having a government-mandated monopoly. They pass that tax along to their captive customer base, which is oblivious to the fact that businesses don't pay taxes, they collect them.

        • Before anyone clicks on the Reply to This link to pipe up that it's double taxation on the telcos too... yes, it is. It's an extra tax they pay in exchange for having a government-mandated monopoly. They pass that tax along to their captive customer base, which is oblivious to the fact that businesses don't pay taxes, they collect them.

          It's worse than that, they are allowed to bill you $5 for XYZ tax when they are only paying a 5 cent tax to some government, which in part gets spent on telco services from
    • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:42PM (#6789331) Journal
      Because it is easier than cutting spending.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:49PM (#6789389)
      Because we need to build multi-billion dollar missile defense systems that don't even work to protect us from terrorists who don't even own sophisticated missile systems. It's all very logical, really.
    • by L0neW0lf (594121) on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:03PM (#6789505)
      Because senior citizens rarely use LANs, so the AARP and won't bitch about it much. ;) Don't you know ANYTHING about how Florida works?
  • by draziw (7737) * on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:19PM (#6789070) Journal
    That's why the DMCA, TCPA, copyright/trademark law, wiretap laws, etc. work perfectly. At least in this case, there is no chance at all that this proposed tax will actually happen. Next they will try to tax people who _think_ about buying something on the net, or ponder putting gas in their cars. Frigging idiots.

    (Idiotic laws/implementation is part of why SCO is trying to pull off crazy moves)

    --
    I hear there are two types of people in Florida... Really really old people, and their parents.
    +1 for good karma, love for the DMCA, SCO, and low user id.
    • tax on "thingy":

      Politician: Gentlemen, our MP saw the PM this AM and the PM wants more LSD from the PIB by tomorrow AM or PM at the latest. I told the PM's PPS that AM was NBG so tomorrow PM it is for the PM it is zero. Give us a fag or I'll go spare. Now- the fiscal deficit with regard to the monetary balance, the current financial year excluding invisible exports, but adjusted of course for seasonal variations and the incremental statistics of the fiscal and revenue arrangements for the forthcoming annua
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:19PM (#6789071)
    From the state that brought you the 2000 presidential election debacle

    Would that be Texas?
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:19PM (#6789072)
    Are they going to audit anyone with a computer and an email address?
  • Jeb (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What else can you expect from the state that elected a guy named "Jeb".
    • Re:Jeb (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tcopeland (32225) *
      More than I'd expect from a post by someone named "Anonymous".
    • Re:Jeb (Score:5, Funny)

      by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:24PM (#6789672) Homepage
      " What else can you expect from the state that elected a guy named "Jeb".

      Come and listen to a story about a guv named Jeb
      A rich southernor, barely got his bro Prez,
      Then one day he was lookin' for more dough,
      And got the idea he could tax the LANs too.

      Data that is, ethernet, Texas bits.

      Well the first thing you know ol' Jeb's still a millionaire,
      Kinfolk said Jeb give some cash from there
      Said Floridee is the place for dough and fun
      So they loaded up the vaults and moved to Washington.

      DC, that is.
      Greedy pols, movie stars.

  • If you dont pay the taxes, then you will be violating the DMCA. It's really that simple I would think.
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by malibucreek (253318) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:20PM (#6789086) Homepage
    Well, if it's nine percent of my incoming spam that they want... the state can have it.

    Heck, take 100 percent. Anything I can do to help.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:41PM (#6789319)
      Well, if it's nine percent of my incoming spam that they want... the state can have it.

      It would be so nice if people would read the actual article. (Yes, I realize the above was a joke.) Here's the vital line:

      Computer networks would be taxed at that percent on either annual lease payments or depreciation.

      What they're talking about, in nine cases out of ten, would be taxing equipment depreciation. (I assume that they're referring to dedicated WAN lines when they talk about annual lease payments, since I don't know anyone who leases LANs.)

      What's really boneheaded about this is that LANs are so cheap, even for relatively large LANs, that equipment expenses are more likely to be written off as capital expense rather than being depreciated over time. Even then -- since annual depreciation is usually defined by tax codes -- most LANs would last well beyond their depreciation period, resulting in an exemption from further taxation.

      What'll be interesting to see is how they define what a LAN actually is. Hubs, routers, switches, and spools of CAT-5 or coax, sure, but will they be including NICs -- which are arguably part of the PC rather than the network proper -- or network operating systems?

      The worst part is that this won't be a good source of revenue, but will impose considerable expense on businesses to comply with the reporting requirements.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:21PM (#6789096)


    > Exactly what they will be taxing isn't clear, since the tax amounts to 9% of... something.

    Clearly, they'll charge you 94,371.84 bytes per megabyte.

    Presumably you can pay by simply sending them a big e-message.

  • My question is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by reboot246 (623534)
    9% of what? Two computers in an office times 9% doesn't make any sense. Typical legislators - educated way beyond their intelligence.
  • Tax on purchase? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syates21 (78378) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:21PM (#6789106)
    It sounds like a crappy idea any way you slice it, but from reading the article it looks like they are talking about taxing the purchase of the LAN equipment, rather than taxing/metering of usage itself.

    What I don't understand is why this would be treated differently than buying desktop organizers or office chairs.

    Morons.
    • Re:Tax on purchase? (Score:3, Informative)

      by syates21 (78378)
      Hmm, after a little further digging, it looks like rule the are referring to governs taxes on operating costs, not purchase.

      There's a nice blurb at DSLReports [dslreports.com] about it.
  • How can they legally tax something that's wholly owned and operated internally by an organization?
    • "How can they legally tax something that's wholly owned and operated internally by an organization?"

      Welcome to America, kid. Now the corporations have a whole other set of taxes to dodge.

      Realy though, it sounds like a cash grab. Government sees money, so it always wants to get a slice of the pie. You will see this more and more in an effort to pay for the over-inflated security budgets of states due to terrorism.
      • "Realy though, it sounds like a cash grab. Government sees money, so it always wants to get a slice of the pie. You will see this more and more in an effort to pay for the over-inflated security budgets of states due to terrorism."

        And the overinflated "social" spending budget. That 40 years after it's inception leaves us with the same poverty rate we had when it started.

        I'm all for taxation and government... To take the MINIMAL amount it needs to provide the MINIMUM amount of oversight needed to enforce
    • How about property taxes? Wholly owning and operating your car doesn't stop the gov't from taxing it :)
  • zero.

    I believe the tax applies where charges are made for the actual communication, not the equipment itself.

    Otherwise I think there'd have to be a nine percent tax on styrofoam cups and a question at the register, "Sir, do you plan on tying a string between two of these so your kids can play in their tree fort?"

    Alex.
  • "We're hoping we get a lot of attention paid to this and understand what impact would it have," he says.

    I am thinking that they will have trouble finding any positive responses.
  • by ih8apple (607271) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:24PM (#6789128)
    according to this article [msnbc.com]: "Computer networks would be taxed at that percent on either annual lease payments or depreciation."
  • FL should tax the spammers that operate out of 561 [guardian.co.uk] -- they operate HUGE networks (assuming you include their wan links and Korean relays) and could be a source of "enlarged" revenue, if you get my drift.
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:24PM (#6789131) Homepage
    The Lanquisition!

    NOBODY expects the LANquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the IRS.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.
  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:25PM (#6789138) Homepage
    The original intent of most communications taxes was to subsidize the government's cost for the publically provided communications infrastructure... if the gov't is going to be supplying me with a free GigaBit ethernet LAN, then sure, they can tax it's use.

    Get with the program people... sounds as wacky as Seattle's proposed tax on espresso!

    MadCow.
  • Taxing LANs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tgraupmann (679996)
    How could they possibly tax a LAN? First of all a LAN isn't connected to the internet by itself. Second, firewalls protect the visibility of the LAN. Third, where is the profit. Technically a LAN could be a $2 cross over cable. I have to think maybe someone non-technical came up with this. Perhaps they meant taxing commerical networks or ISPs. But then again, Florida can't even count to ten. Must be in the genes.
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:25PM (#6789140) Journal
    This is all just an attempt to take back the coveted title of The Doofus State [miami.com] from California. We reacquired it thanks to our upcoming election. (If Schwarzenegger wins, it's Total Recall, I suppose.)
  • Taxman (Score:5, Funny)

    by Esion Modnar (632431) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:25PM (#6789144)
    Let me tell you how it will be, here's one for you nineteen for me, 'cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman.

    Should 95% appear to small, be thankful I don't take it all, 'cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman.

    If you drive your car, I'll tax the street, if you take a walk, I'll tax your feet, if you get too cold, I'll tax the heat, if you take the bus, I'll tax your seat, TAXMAN!!!

  • Recount! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:27PM (#6789166)
    Exactly what they will be taxing isn't clear, since the tax amounts to 9% of... something

    If it's by the byte, for heavily black/jewish democratic networks 1MB= 1024kB. On republican networks 1MB will = 1000kB.

    Oh...and will they count hanging patch cords? What about ones that are plugged in, but haven't fully clicked into the port, and fall out during counting?

    God help Florida users if the government learns of half versus full duplex...

  • by JessLeah (625838) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:29PM (#6789186)
    Well, if the RIAA can discover "virtual" CD burners in raids, maybe they'll tax "virtual ISPs", or "server potential" which would be the result of some weird formula involving CPU types and speeds, RAM complements, etc...

    I can see the headlines now. "Joseph McMurphy has been artrested in Altamonte Springs, Florida, for allegedly possessing the equivalent of 6 Internet servers without paying network wiring taxes. This amount, roughly equivalent to 60 small Web sites or 600 personal sites......."
  • Good luck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shogarth (668598) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:30PM (#6789207)
    So you get a bunch of legistators in a room and they decide to implement a tax based on lease payments or depreciation. Good luck to them.

    There are some amazingly difficult terminology problems for them to define:
    • For calculating depreciation, what is the lifespan of the cable plant? Does fiber have a longer lifespan than copper? If so, how much longer?
    • Is the labor cost of installing the cable plant taxed or just the materials?
    • What is the lifespan of a switch/router? How about a VPN server? A NAT box? A firewall?
    • Are servers included as part of the LAN? If so, how do you differentiate between a "server" and a "desktop?"
    • If you are leasing, do you get taxed on the service/support component or just the equipment costs?
    • Since vendors don't report these sales to the municipality, how in the Hell are they going to enforce this?
  • by DrinkDr.Pepper (620053) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:31PM (#6789225)
    home be next?

    Well lets see, I pay tax on my telephone bills, on my power bill, on my gas bill. I pay it on any wires I buy to install in my house and I pay tax on my house itself. What isn't taxed within my house?
  • Fantastic idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kstumpf (218897) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:32PM (#6789236)
    What a great way to encourage businesses to setup shop in your state! I'm sure companies will flock to Florida now.
  • by KillerHamster (645942) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:33PM (#6789243) Homepage
    ...right after I finish writing one for SCO.
  • by switcha (551514) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:34PM (#6789250)
    Now they will have to edit out that part about "LAN of the free, and home of the brave".

    Wha'?! It's what?

  • A Floridian speaks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Glamdrlng (654792) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:35PM (#6789267)

    I've pretty much grown use to shite like this from our legislature. When they're not too busy cutting money from education or giving HMO's a get-out-of-lawsuit-free card, they occasionally manage to do something I find surprising and refreshing, but no less assinine.

    I think this law is fine, but I say reverse it: instead of levying a tax on private companies for their LANs, how about they levy a tax on themselves for every piece of copper and fiber in the state, county, and city government networks. Then they should take that money and invest it in supporting the bits of Florida's economy that aren't tourism or hospitality, and see how that works out.

    Fucktards.

    • by The Tyro (247333)
      When did they give HMO's a get-out-of-lawsuit free card? If you're referring to the most-recent legislation, that was about giving Florida doctors some relief (I should know, I am an ER doc in Florida). They actually capped my liability, which is a welcome relief... ER docs get sued often, and I can't remember the last time one of my colleagues or friends got involved in an ER case that had real merit. I'm sorry to say, but most malpractice lawsuits are for stuff that's clearly objectively reasonable car
  • by Sebby (238625) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:44PM (#6789350)
    "That clanging you hear is the machine working," he says.

    Funny, I could swear it was businesses moving to other states...

  • by SilentMajority (674573) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:45PM (#6789354) Homepage
    Here's why you'll start seeing more crazy-sounding initiatives like this "lan tax":

    1. Outsourcing jobs overseas = massive amounts of lost taxes for USA. Since IT jobs were hit the hardest and California was the hottest IT area, it doesn't take a genius to figure out one substantial reason why they're in a budget crisis (which is a taste of things to come for our federal budget).

    2. Huge tax cuts without requirements on how it should be spent = lost tax revenues that might not be spent at all or spent in ways that improve the economy. This is kinda like giving a total stranger $100K and expecting him to spend it in ways that help you while not giving him any expectations on how to spend it (i.e. he can spend it all on building offshore infrastructure to move even more US jobs overseas!).

    3. Our president's failure to build consensus in the UN to attack Iraq and then being exposed for making false justification statements means that other countries are less willing to send their young soldiers to die in Iraq. This means more of OUR taxes going to pay for this ongoing fiasco which will likely INCREASE the odds of future terrorist attacks & boycotts against US-made products.

    4. and so on including our mounting budget deficit which is like running up a huge credit card bill with mounting interest that YOU and I must pay later with...you guessed it--more freaking taxes than EVER given the aging demographics of babyboomers and their impact on social security, medicare and reduced collection of income taxes from them as they retire.

    NOTE: $100K is roughly how much VP. Cheney will save in taxes in one year due to the Bush tax cuts. Since that money has to come from somewhere, many of our brave soldiers sacrificing their lives in Iraq will receive PAY CUTS of around $200/month.

    Don't be surprised if you find important services like public schools and homeland security facing massive budget cuts in the future--it doesn't HAVE to happen but I don't see a way out if we continue managing our government in the most idiotic way I've seen in decades.

    I feel sorry for the poor soul who'll get elected as our president next because he's gonna have an almost impossible task on his hands (he'll need to take massive and very unpopular action to fix this mess being created by the current politicians).
    • by s20451 (410424) on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:14PM (#6789598) Journal
      Huge tax cuts without requirements on how it should be spent = lost tax revenues that might not be spent at all or spent in ways that improve the economy. This is kinda like giving a total stranger $100K and expecting him to spend it in ways that help you while not giving him any expectations on how to spend it

      Good point. The only solution is a 100 per cent flat tax rate. Clearly, the only organization that can spend money wisely is the government.

      While we're at it, if we can't trust the people to spend money wisely, why can we trust them to pick the government? We should also close the "voting loophole".
    • I feel sorry for the poor soul who'll get elected as our president next because he's gonna have an almost impossible task on his hands (he'll need to take massive and very unpopular action to fix this mess being created by the current politicians).

      Well, he could always try being honest, put Shrub in prison for treason and bill Asshat for all the money he spent covering up a statue since he has the maturity of a thirteen year old. That should help his popularity enormously.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      1. This has been happening for YEARS in every other segment of the economy? Why should IT jobs be the one to not go next? Once saw a sign at a buffet 'do not let your eyes be bigger than your stomach' California did JUST that.

      2. Thank you for saying the goverment can spend *MY* money better than me. Its *MY* money that goes for those taxes. It never was the goverments in the first place. *I* am the one that earned it NOT them. I know dozens of people that used that money for exactly what it was put
    • by Mad Man (166674) on Monday August 25, 2003 @08:40PM (#6789796)
      re: Here's a good reason WHY this is being attempted. [slashdot.org]


      Here's why you'll start seeing more crazy-sounding initiatives like this "lan tax":

      Didn't Vice President Gore support a telecommunications tax? And didn't several states want to tax internet commerce during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s?

      This is kinda like giving a total stranger $100K and expecting him to spend it in ways that help you while not giving him any expectations on how to spend it

      So taking less money from taxpayers is the same as giving it to strangers? Funny -- I thought paying taxes was more like giving money to strangers.

      many of our brave soldiers sacrificing their lives in Iraq will receive PAY CUTS of around $200/month.

      After the Wall Street Journal cited a story about the $200 pay cut, printed this clarification [opinionjournal.com]:

      Not So Foolish
      We heard from numerous servicemen, ex-servicemen and relatives of servicemen who took issue with the articles we cited in our item yesterday [opinionjournal.com] on pay and benefits for the troops on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Capt. Jamie Flanders of the Air Force writes:

      Neither the Pentagon nor Congress has any plans of removing the family-separation allowance or the hostile fire/imminent danger pay from all of our deployed troops.

      I am currently deployed to Uzbekistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As a captain (O-3) and a deployed member, I am entitled to the following benefits in addition to my regular pay:

      * $3.50 per diem (to cover miscellaneous expenses, soap, snacks, etc). $3.50 per day for one 30-day month comes to $105. This is the least amount given to every deployed military member and may be increased based on the cost of living in the deployed area.

      * Hostile fire/imminent danger pay. Currently set at $150 a month for members deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Pentagon is reviewing whether or not those areas that are no longer considered dangerous deserve this specific pay. This will not affect those members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

      * Family separation allowance. Currently set at $250 per month. This pay is given to any military member who is away from his family for at least 30 days. Congress increased the amount to $250 from $150 a month after Sept. 2001 and reviews it each fiscal year to determine whether to should drop it back to $150.

      * Tax-free status. Given to every military member deployed to a combat/imminent danger zone. And this amount is not prorated. If I deploy on June 30, my pay for the entire month of June is tax free. If I go home on July 1, all of July is tax-free as well. This is given to the military member by not withholding FICA from his monthly paycheck--and that month is not considered part of total taxable income on the W-2. As a captain with 10 years of total military service, my monthly pay increased approximately by $600.

      So for my deployment to Uzbekistan, I receive additional benefits totaling $1,105 a month. In the worst-case scenario, the Pentagon is considering for my area to remove hostile fire pay and reduce family separation back to $150. Based on that, my total benefits would drop to $855.

      Many readers also pointed out that in addition to the $6,000 death benefit for families of servicemen killed in action, the Department of Veterans Affairs also offers low-cost Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, which pays even if a soldier or veteran dies while not on duty.


      Note the "tax free status," which is like giving money to a rich stranger.

      Don't be surprised if you find import

  • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:53PM (#6789417) Homepage Journal
    They meant to enact a new property tax, i.e., a tax on land, but somebody dropped the 'd'.

    Of course, another sense of property taxation would be pretty hard on enterprise Java developers.
  • Ok Florida (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:55PM (#6789441)
    you can pass the crack pipe back to SCO now.
  • by AntiOrganic (650691) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:56PM (#6789449) Homepage
    What constitutes a LAN that they are trying to tax? If I have a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone that communicates with my computer, is there a tax on that too? If they tax 802.11b/g, how about 2.4 GHz cordless phones operating on the same band? My computer gets its IP address via DHCP from my cable modem. Is this a local area network?

    Furthermore, how would this work in practice? Would you have auditing commissions travelling from house to house inspecting crawlspaces for 3Com switches? Would you have to have a license to own networking equipment, like a TV license in the UK? What would the penalty be for operating a LAN without a license? They justify this as "taxing other forms of communication." Are they going to charge a 9% tax on children's walkie-talkies too? How about taxing the morons with their Nextel 2-way radios in a movie theater? Maybe that wouldn't be so terrible.

    Unless the exact devices to be taxed are made insidiously clear, this could be a great way to ensure that arbitrary people are taxed on arbitrary things. Democrats especially.
  • Greedy government. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WCMI92 (592436) on Monday August 25, 2003 @07:56PM (#6789451) Homepage
    You know, why doesn't government ever get labeled as "big" or "greedy" as profiteering corps do, when government is the BIGGEST corporation of them all, and the ONLY one (well, the RIAA is close now) that has the power to use guns to enforce it's will...

    Everyone who has two PC's sharing internet from a router has a LAN and would be subject to tax.

    Taxation that would be COMPLETELY unjustifiable. How can PRIVATE infrastructure that government has no role in creating or maintaining be justifiably taxed?! That I've ALREADY paid tax on, for the income that BOUGHT the equipment, and then on the router, NICs, switch and cabling when I purchased them?

    If this flies, don't think that other tax-hungry states, like WV or KY (where I work and live) won't follow suit. At home here, I have a LAN infrastructure that rivals most small businesses... It seems unfair to tax me because of my expertise in creating it!

    So, what will happen? Government revenue agents busting down doors looking for CAT 5 cable and 802.11 antennas?

    But then, don't sucessful people have broadband and home LANs? Taxation is all about punishing (discouraging) success to feed failure, I guess.

    Now the geeks have been targeted.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday August 25, 2003 @09:02PM (#6789967) Homepage Journal
    Florida doesn't have an income tax, so they're always scrounging around for someone they can screw out of some money. Case in point: their illegal vehicular "impact fee" that they had in place a few years back. When you moved into the state, they'd ding you for $600 to register your car the first year. Subsequently ruled an illegal tax by some federal court or other.

    Now it's IT Company story time! Everyone gather 'round! Ready? Once upon a time, a huge IT company by the name of IBM opened an office in Boca Raton, Florida. The ever-money hungry Floridian politicians, sensing a windfall, quickly went to work to enact legislation allowing the state of Florida to tax IBM's entire profits because they had a presense in Florida. IBM said "Screw you guys, we're going North!" The legislation was quickly dropped after that, but IBM held a grudge after that and eventually closed the IBM Boca plant (Which was by far the most beautiful one I've worked at to date) in the mid 90's, costing thousands of jobs in the Boca Raton area. The moral of this story is that you can try to fix something after you've broken it, but it probably won't do much good in the long run.

    Oh yeah and a while back they also played the most self-rightious and annoying commercial about how if you went out of state and bought something, you owed Florida sales tax on it. So I'd like to send mad propz out to the penis of the country.

  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by El (94934) on Monday August 25, 2003 @09:35PM (#6790216)
    what's the annual depreciation on two cans with a string tied between? Wouldn't we have a lot better laws if there was some "enforcibility" criteria they had to meet before they were passed?
  • by Darth_Burrito (227272) on Monday August 25, 2003 @10:16PM (#6790475)
    Hey, maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem like a country concerned about abridging freedom of speech should be imposing taxes on communication mechanisms. I mean, if the government were providing a service for the tax like delivering a letter for postage or improving the state's public network infrastructure, then maybe I could see it. But, I find it unAmerican (in the old sense, not the new one) to force an individual to pay a fee to an essentially irrelevant (as in unrelated to the communication at hand) governing body in order to send a message. I mean it's called freedom of speech right?
  • by sootman (158191) on Monday August 25, 2003 @10:32PM (#6790585) Homepage Journal
    So let's RTFA and see if we can figure this out, OK?

    "Most of Florida communications case law stems from the rotary dial era," saith the article. OK, so to my layman's brain, that sounds like "Our case law is old, so we need to do some crazy think to generate more court activity so we can update our case law." Kind of like "throw some shit at the wall and hope some sticks." Am I on the right track here?

    "'The standard response is on the border between surprise and outrage,' says Arthur Simon, senior vice president of big-business lobby Associated Industries of Florida."

    Aha, big business is against higher taxes. (Makes sense.) Finafuckingly, our Disney lobbyists will do something worthwhile by figting this. I'll bet the Mouse has a pretty big fscking LAN. Remember, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    "'What did surprise the business community was the extent and reach of the rule,' says the lobbyist."

    In 2003, a LAN tax is akin to a breathing tax. Like they said in the article, "Practically any office with two computers will have a local area network."

    Oh well. I'll have to see how this one goes. As long as we don't have to vote on it, I think we'll come through OK. :-)
  • take the red pill (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theCat (36907) on Monday August 25, 2003 @10:32PM (#6790588) Journal
    To the extent that every single physical and energetic part of a network is taxed from the start, from the wire to the hubs and routers and even to the energy that powers it up and modulates across the wires and chips, you have to realize that what they are proposing now is a tax on the flow of information.

    What else are they talking about? Clearly they are not talking about taxing the flow of electric current, otherwise they would tax your extension cord by length for every year you have it hanging in the garage. But you take that same copper wire in a different form factor and with a certain number of twists per foot, those same electrons modulated in a particular way, and now you have something new you can tax. That is a very interesting transition.

    There is a peculiar kind of mind at work here. It's almost exactly the same mind working in the shadowy deeps at SCO, and in Redmond, and in government agencies across the country. It is a business mind only superficially. More specifically, it is the mind bent on control.

    I am not a revolutionary. I probably should be and when I was younger I might have been but these days I don't have time for it. But I can sense when someone is making a move on me and the things I hold to be important, and this is one of those times. The hair on the back of my neck starts to rise and I stop configuring the firewall and I sit back and I think.

    We are in for a rough ride, I'm afraid. The authorities have arrived. Between the RIAA and the FBI and the bean counters and Microsoft it is getting uncomfortable to be where we are, doing what we are doing, in the way we are doing it and have done it for decades. We are not domesticated enough, not cowed. They cannot control this, any of it, and it worries them endlessly. There is no business model for cattle that won't stay in their pen. But there are plenty of professionals who can round up your cattle for you, for a fee. And then to the factory.

    Do the cows in the feedlot know where they are headed? They have had an easy life, haven't they. Grown fat and complacent. Did the jump-over-the-fence thing once, got hit with a prod, gave it up after that. The grass wasn't really all that much better on the other side anyway. Do the cattle ever stop to wonder about that day? And about the fence? About why it was so important to stay behind the fence?

    Here we are grazing the tall green grass, belly deep and well pleased, and the herders have noticed we're out. Feel the first shock of the prod...hear the order to move out...what are you going to do... ...damned firewall. What is wrong with this VPN? Tunnel interfaces are all screwed up. I'm too tired to figure this out. 14 fscking hours and no VPN and no time to think. I don't know what to do. Someone, tell me what to do.
  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:51PM (#6791038)
    This is pretty much like the "window tax" which both France and England instituted in the 17-18th centuries, which hit people pretty hard, and they would do things such as brick up their windows to avoid paying the tax. England also had a "hearth tax" for a while. Why? Because people needed hearths and windows.

    Personally, I think taxation should be directly related to the public cost for the item or activity. For instance, having a home means that you make police, fire, schools, prisons, water service, etc. necessary. So tax a home based upon the costs incurred to support these things. Tax a vehicle based on the costs needed to maintain the roads -- i.e., wear and tear on the roads. Tax pollution and garbage.

    The things that seem the most unjust are the taxes which are completely disconnected from the use of the tax money. A tax on LANs is ridiculous because there is no reason to think that it costs the state any money for you to have one -- the public incurs no costs to support your LAN. In addition, LANs are things that are needed by people and businesses. So, like windows and hearths, it seems even worse that the state is collecting taxes on them because they know people cannot live without them. It makes you feel very powerless at the hands of the state.

  • by jfmiller (119037) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @12:23AM (#6791166) Homepage Journal
    This is a tax on the depriceated value of the network. If you are not a buisness no tax because you can't clame deprieciated losses. This is to fix a company that writes off $1,000,000 in network equitment depriciation every year and therefore doesn't pay taxes.

    This BTW is the is one of the reasons M$ didn't pay ANY fedral taxes last year

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