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Mississippi Bill Would Tax Software Sales 293

Posted by kdawson
from the join-the-crowd dept.
Byzantine writes "The Mississippi Legislature has passed MS House Bill 1461 which would amend the state's tax laws specifically to charge sales tax on 'electrically transferred digital products,' including products bought via mail-order. The bill is currently on the governor's desk awaiting signature." Softpedia claims that 20 states have enacted download taxes of one sort or another — most of them for iTunes music — and that New York is considering taxing downloads of all kinds.
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Mississippi Bill Would Tax Software Sales

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  • Mississippi stays at the bottom of the heap
    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:42PM (#27142945) Homepage Journal

      Maybe someone should tell them it's not FIFO~

    • Re:thus ensuring (Score:5, Interesting)

      by yog (19073) * on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:48PM (#27143001) Homepage Journal

      Mississippi stays at the bottom of the heap

      Don't worry, they'll be joined shortly by many other states hungry for revenue. The problem with this bill (well, one of many problems, actually) is that it will damage the nascent e-book and e-music industry just as they're struggling to get established, even as paper and CD publishers flounder. Also, it will largely tax the teens and 20-30-somethings who actually purchase these kinds of products. A rather regressive tax.

      It should be easy enough to get around this law. If you read the bill, it spells out the precise types of electronic "products" that are taxable. So the vendors can simply convert these products to non-ebooks and non-music and non-videos, and provide a little converter that allows the buyer to change them back into ebooks and music and videos at his/her discretion. We don't sell music, we sell blobs of binary data. If you find a way to transform it miraculously into your favorite music, more power to you!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by penix1 (722987)

        An even better idea would be a refusal to sell to residents of those states. The moment the billing / destination address is identified as a taxing state, refuse the sale based on the tax legislation. If it's online, link to it specifically. Nothing like political pressure to make a politician squirm. Once those states stop having sales from Internet based sources, they'll change their tune.

        • by digitig (1056110)
          How many businesses are going to say "Hmm, shall we make a profit, or shall we make a political statement"? Rather few, I think, will go for the principle; almost all will take the sale. The ones who would have sufficiently strong principles (in the appropriate direction) are probably producing open source anyway. Does the bill tax support?
      • by b4upoo (166390)

        Obviously such a law can not be enforced. But the thought behind this new law is disturbing. The notion that a government can muck about and stir up things to create a new source of taxation needs to be nipped in the bud so that we are not forced to perpetually fight such obnoxious ideas.

      • by TheSpoom (715771) *

        I don't usually go with what's normally a Republican line of thinking, but for something like this, businesses absolutely will move states to avoid being subject to a sales tax.

        This will only take jobs away from Mississippi and other states that pursue such policies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It just means that all of these businesses will move to a state that does not have such a law. If you do not have a physical presence in a particular state, said state cannot require you to collect sales tax (read this bill, it also recognizes this limit). The problem with this tax is that it encourages businesses to locate in another state. It will not generate as much revenue as the legislators anticipate, unless they spend a significant amount of money on enforcement. Even then I suspect that the result
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @07:44PM (#27143663) Homepage Journal
      I don't think they actually have computers there. I've never met anyone claiming to be from Mississippi on the Internet.
  • Tax Evasion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by veganboyjosh (896761) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @05:55PM (#27142411)
    I wonder how this will play out with regards to illegal downloads? If one gets caught/charged/accused of transferring "digital goods" to which they don't own the copyright to, are they then responsible for the taxes those goods would have generated had they been legit?
    Reminds me of Al Capone's downfall...
  • I don't believe that any reasonable person believed that online sales would not eventually be taxed. This government after all - thier job is to find things to tax after all. I assume it took this long because of the ineptitude of beuracracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      There Job is to find way to pay for services that people demand.

      No one taxes to just tax. It's hard enough to tell people you need to tax for the things they want!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chabo (880571)

        No one taxes to just tax.

        Obviously you don't live in California.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)

          I lived in CA long enough to remember when they had an excellent schools system, both K-12 and community college. Watched it all go to hell when they passed prop 13. Limiting taxes.
          I left in 2000.

          • Re:Inevitable.... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:22PM (#27142711) Homepage Journal

            I recently came to California from New Hampshire, which introduced a property tax several years ago. I wasn't around for Prop. 13, but after doing a bit of reading, I'm glad it passed. If someone owns land, and has little income, why should they be punished for that?

            I know a man who works as a teacher in New Hampshire who owns over 100 acres of land. The land's been in his family for at least two generations. The property tax was passed, and he nearly went bankrupt paying the taxes on the land because the land value assessments were artificially inflated by the housing market bubble.

            I don't like heavy taxation in any form, but property taxes are disproportionately unfair to anyone who owns land and doesn't have a high income.

            • by spood (256582)

              Land is a finite commodity. If everyone got the same amount, there would only be about 5 acres of land available per person today.

              It might not be fair to the teacher to have to pay high taxes on the land, but it's not fair to society to let him keep it for no/low cost when it might be put to better, more productive use for society by someone else.

              If he can't afford it, let him sell it to someone who can. If there's no incentive for people to make productive use of capital, the economy stagnates.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                I think the next tax will be computer taxes... for every computer you own you will be taxed appropriately. Doesn't matter if the computer is a TI-2 or the latest Dell super computer. To make it easy a computer will be defined by a cpu, for every cpu in your house you're taxed...

                If you can't afford to have a quad core computer, microwave, refrigerator, tv, remote control, digital cable box, digital thermostat, hot water heater, alarm clock, cell phone, LAN telephone, home router, home entertainment center,

              • Re:Inevitable.... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by shaper (88544) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @09:20PM (#27144695) Homepage

                If there's no incentive for people to make productive use of capital, the economy stagnates.

                The incentive for people to make productive use of capital is the reward / gain they get from doing so. I'm no rabid objectivist or "big-L" libertarian, but that's just fundamental economics.

                it's not fair to society to let him keep it for no/low cost when it might be put to better, more productive use for society by someone else.

                Spoken like a true communist. Other than life itself, there is no more fundamental right than the right to property. From your comments I get the impression that you are not a property owner or you would not be so cavalier in taxing it away.

                Reallocating property from one person to another based on "productive use of capital" for the benefit of society over the rights of the individual is always going to be a negative incentive to productivity. Why acquire property if it can just be taken away (or taxed away) at the whim of some powerful individual or group? Some property taxes are probably inevitable to pay for necessary social services (fire, police, etc.) but those taxes should never be used to penalize for some imagined lack of relative "productivity".

                Unfortunately, there are others who agree with your line of reasoning, most notably some US Supreme Court justices. See Kelo v. City of New London [wikipedia.org] for a real world example of the results.

              • Re:Inevitable.... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @10:13PM (#27145163) Homepage Journal
                "It might not be fair to the teacher to have to pay high taxes on the land, but it's not fair to society to let him keep it for no/low cost when it might be put to better, more productive use for society by someone else. If he can't afford it, let him sell it to someone who can. If there's no incentive for people to make productive use of capital, the economy stagnates."

                So..you're saying you are against the idea that people own things like land/property. That they ONLY 'rent' it from the government (tax==rent)

                Boy, now that is a big change from how things in this country started....

            • by geekoid (135745)

              "someone owns land, and has little income, why should they be punished for that?"

              Umm, since this hadn't happened before the Prop, why would it suddenly start happening without the prop?
              Yeah people where all 'Don't throw old ladies out in the street' even though there had never been a recorded incident of that happening.
              If I had know the term then, I would have called it FUD.

              In every state I have looked into it, taxes are based on the accessed value from the county, not on the market conditions. In CA my con

              • by jabithew (1340853)

                Why should tax payers support people who can't afford to pay there property tax?

                Circular reasoning.

              • :blink::blink:

                So, just where do you think the county's assessed value numbers come from? Thin air? The Assessor's magic 8 ball? Roll 5d6?

                The ignorance in your statement is staggering.

                The county's assessed value is based almost exclusively on market value!

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by Chabo (880571)

                  Actually, one of the biggest reasons I don't like New Hampshire's property tax is that for the last few years, the assessors were inflating the assessed value. Thing is, the more they say your house/land is worth, the more you're taxed. It was in their best interest to say that your house was worth a fortune! My dad had to appeal on our house to get another assessor to come and give a more reasonable figure.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by mikael (484)

                http://e-city.ca/events/event_details.php?id=143 [marketvalueassessment]

                Retired homeowners see their assessments skyrocketing because others are buying and selling, putting their ability to age in place at risk.

            • by Peyna (14792)

              NH has had a property tax for a long time. In fact, the property tax in NH pretty much accounts for almost the entire state budget. The problem is that owning valuable property does not necessary equate to ability to pay taxes. Thus, you're anecdote bears some relevance to NH's tax system, but not because the tax is new, rather, because your friend inherited valuable land, but has a limited income and therefore cannot pay the tax.

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              Sorry, I call BS coming from NH. There has been a property tax here for 20 years (as long as I've been here) at least. The difference is that the property tax and business taxes are the only taxes. What this means is that towns with no business have much higher property taxes than those that don't. But... I've got lower property taxes on a 1 acre lot near a lake in NH than people I know on a postage stamp in Taxachusetts. And, get this, no state income tax, and really hold onto you hats, no sales tax. Also,
          • Re:Inevitable.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Buelldozer (713671) <{cliff} {at} {gindulis.net}> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @07:46PM (#27143691)

            Sorry, I know this is off topic but I can't let it pass without comment.

            So you REALLY think that it was Prop 13 that sank California?

            Why is it always the income side of Government that is deficient? How about examining the expense structure of the state and how it changed.

            Somehow more tax money NEVER solves the revenue problem faced by Government. NEVER. NOT ONE TIME.

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

              by Temkin (112574) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @10:08PM (#27145103)

              Sorry, I know this is off topic but I can't let it pass without comment.

              So you REALLY think that it was Prop 13 that sank California?

              Well.... The thing about prop 13... It set up a conflict of interest between the cities and counties and their populace. After prop 13, the cities and counties were opposed to new housing development. Housing demands services that is not covered by the revenue generated. As time goes by, the cities and counties develop complex ways of hiding this problem by implementing all manner of permit fees and revenue enhancements. For example in 2000, in one small east SF Bay area city, in order to build a house, it cost in excess of $70,000 for the required building permits. That means that every single house that has a valid occupancy permit, no matter what condition, has a built in base price of $70,000.

              Artificial scarceness drives up prices. When a house changes hands, it can be reassessed under prop 13. So churn is good for cities.

              Finally... The banks get to collect 5 - 6 - 7% interest on all this property tax avoidance chicanery. Lather rinse repeat for 30+ years...

              We're reading about the results in the paper every day. The house of cards finally folded. Now some of the gross abuses of the state expense structure are coming into view. My favorite... The police and correctional officers union. You do your 20 years, and get to retire with full benefits. So you can retire at roughly 40 years old, and have full pay and benefits for life while you go double dip as a security consultant, etc... Same deal with the firefighter unions.

              The problem is... It's easy enough to say "yea, that's wrong. They shouldn't sign those contracts." or "they should repeal prop 13", but they're entrenched. If you benefit from them, you support them. My parents love prop 13. And why shouldn't they? They're paying property taxes last reassessed in 1978. Their son bought a cardboard box of a house, payed 11% income tax, 5% of his income in property tax, 9.25% sales tax, 1% vehicle property tax, and countless fees... and double that again in inflated prices so others could do the same... and got fed up sold his house and transferred his job out of state. They still don't understand why.

          • by mikael (484)

            The problems were caused by Market Value Assessments. Retirees bought a small house, paid their property taxes, no problem. The next door neighbor decides he wants to cut down all the trees, and turn the back lot into into rental units to make money. OK, they can live with that. At the next MVA, their property tax quadruples because the city figures out that if their neighbors property is now bringing in sixteen times as much property tax as it used to, so should theirs (MVA just averages the property tax o

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, their job is to preserve individual liberty and to stay within the boundaries set for them by the Constitution. The US government is failing terribly at both.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        No one taxes to just tax. It's hard enough to tell people you need to tax for the things they want!

        I wish I lived in your world. Here in the Real World (tm), governments tax anything they can get away with taxing.

        After all, if you have revenue, you'll find a way to spend it....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Obfuscant (592200)
        There Job is to find way to pay for services that people demand.

        No, their job is to provide the services they are supposed to be providing. They have gone so far afield in the last few decades that many people believe that "I want" is justification for the state to do something. "I want a place to live", and politicians jump to help. "I want a free college education". "I want a museum honoring left-handed butterfly collectors."

        It's hard enough to tell people you need to tax for the things they want!

        It'

    • by icebike (68054)

      Typically states do not tax sales to citizens of other states or tax good purchased from other states because 1) its bad for business, driving mail-order companies out of state, and 2) The murky provisions of Article 1 Sections 9 and 10 have, in the past been seen as making such a tax illegal.

      Therefore, most states will only tax transactions where the seller has a presence in the state.

  • Or are they going to tax based on the honor system? What if I lived in Mississippi, but I traveled to Louisiana and downloaded music? What if I host a server in Colorado, pay for downloads from that server remotely, then sync my file system with that server?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I would wager that while technically you would need to pay taxes in those scenarios, but no one is going to give a rats ass because most people will be downloading through a service like iTunes from their home. Your examples would apply to so few people that it wouldn't be worth paying someone to track you down.

      • by pecosdave (536896)

        They syncing version maybe - though it's an interesting idea.

        The leaving the state one - absolutely not. You can't charge sales tax in one state for business done in another state, especially business that is most likely interstate anyways. I'm not going to research the location of the servers to be certain - but iTunes, probably hosted in Washingston state or California. How would Mississippi have any right to tax a transaction between Louisiana and California? I regularly travel between Texas and Loui

        • by sqlrob (173498)

          You can't charge sales tax in one state for business done in another state

          A rose by any other name... [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by geekoid (135745)

          http://window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/use/ [state.tx.us]

          Many state do require you to report items purchased in another state, based on how long ago you bought it.
          You might want to find out about that tax fraud you've been committing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AuMatar (183847)

          Its called a "use tax". For example CA charges one on anything bought on OR (where there is no sales tax). Buy a car there and you'll quickly find yourself being taxed by CA (although admittedly only big things like cars get tracked down. Everything else is done on the honor system, with remarkably few people filling out anything but a 0 on that line.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chabo (880571)

      I have a feeling this will be implemented like sales tax for purchasing items online: you buy an item from Newegg, and they have to charge you sales tax if you live in a state where they have a physical presence (CA, NJ, TN), even if your order is shipped from elsewhere.

      • by pecosdave (536896)

        Good luck getting a retailer in New Jersey to comply with Mississippi state law if they don't have to, especially small retailers.

        Though, getting Apple and a few the largest others, like Amazon to comply wouldn't be as hard.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chabo (880571)

          Read my post again: I listed those three states for Newegg because of sales tax. Newegg has locations CA, NJ, and TN, so if they ship an order anywhere in CA, NJ, or TN, they have to charge sales tax. If Newegg ships a package to any of the other 47 states, they don't charge sales tax.

          As far as I can tell, if Mississippi passes a Software Sales Tax, then the only retailers that have to comply are retailers in Mississippi to Mississippi residents.

        • by dslbrian (318993)

          NY tried something similar last year. Newegg started out complying with NY's sales tax, but then told them to shove it. Plenty of references here - Newegg Defies New York Sales Tax Law [slashdot.org]

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Yes. While technically you should ahve been paying the use tax on that yourself* , nobody does.
        Wasn't a big deal when .00001% of sales where mail order. Now it's a big deal.

        Mail order companies know this is coming, that's why they are pushing for states to have a single tax for the entire state for these purchases.
        It's one thing to ahve to stay up to date on 50 sales tax numbers, it's another for every state county city, etc . . . in the US.

        Maybe the feds should apply a flat rate to all sales, and then divi

        • by Creepy (93888)

          The problem is, the way the tax codes are from each state it is actually impossible for mail order and internet companies to pay them without added infrastructure.

          And it's not just state tax - you need to tax for the county/parish/etc the person lives in, as well.

          Take Minnesota for example. There is a 6.5% statewide sales tax. If you live in Hennepin County, you need to pay an additional .15% sales tax for the Twins Stadium levy. Now the impossible part - Minnesota also has a $770 Use Tax exemption. Let

  • Logical Move (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:03PM (#27142489) Homepage Journal

    When the chips are down, tax people even more and damage the economy further.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Please show me where taxes on the citizens hurt the economy. I am not talking about corporate taxes; that is a different matter.

      They only way out of this is education, and education costs money. You need things for civilization, and that takes taxes. Increasing purchase, and decreasing income will not work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jabithew (1340853)

        Please show me where taxes on the citizens hurt the economy.

        This is the second time I've posted this link [wikipedia.org] today.

      • by aztektum (170569)

        If all your money goes into taxes you have less to put into the economy to buy $NEW_SHINY_THING

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by copponex (13876)

      When the mode of commerce changes , tax people in order to fund the government and pay for things like social services, roads, and other infrastructure.

      I get so tired of this argument. Government is not always bad, taxes are not always bad, and markets are not always the answer. The rest of the world has been dealing with these realities since the 1970s. If we don't wake up, our wealth isn't going to last into another generation.

      And finally, the "right" to get wealthy is less important than anything on the Bill of Rights. Liberty has nothing to do with owning a Hummer.

    • by Creepy (93888)

      The problem is that most of the budgets were set with 3-5% unemployment and now there is 7-8% or more nationwide. That may not seem like much, but 4-5% less Income tax adds up to billions of dollars of budget shortfall for both state and federal budgets. Lawmakers then have the burden of either cutting spending or increasing taxes or both, and they also need money to provide stimulus for all those unemployed workers to try to restart the economy.

      So lawmakers are really trying to shift the tax burden onto

  • by rtrifts (61627) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:04PM (#27142507) Homepage

    I live in Canada. Here, all of these products are taxed like any other good or service - and there is no mail order freebie to distory the level playing field of the retail economy by not having to pay them via mial order. Up here? It's not new. It's not shocking. Believe it or not, the sun still comes up every morning - the world turns. Then it gets dark and we go to sleep. Every day. Life goes on.

    Thing is, the federal debt in the USA has been spiralling so fast since 2000 that all of these "reports" and pointing to same as the portents of the Four Horsemen are going to go the way of the dodo in a dozen years or so - or less.

    You simply will not have a *choice* but to increase taxes in the USA to at least Canadian and possibly Western European levels if you don't deal with it soon enough. (My bet - you won't deal with it soon enough. Americans are nutty when it comes to taxes.) You'll put it off and put it off and then put it off somemore until there is no wiggle room left at all. And then you will point fingers at your politicians - instead of you the voters - which is *precisely* where the blame will lie.

    That's the price you will ultimately have to pay for spending money for decades that you simply do not have. That prediction is not a *maybe*. It is a *certainty*. The cheque is coming to your table. Deal with it (and kindly quit your whining about it too, please. It's not a big deal.)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      This is a result of the Republicans loosening banking regs. since Reagan and the 'choking the beast' tax cuts.

      • America was in debt since ever before Andrew Jackson and ever after Andrew Jackson. Certainly long before Reagen.

        Jackson despised any form of national bank (in our time, the Federal Reserve), and saw to their bankruptcy and demise, as he thought that whoever controlled the money had power and he wanted the people to have power.

        After bankrupting the national bank, he became the first and only president to date to pay off the national debt. I suspect he will also be the last president to pay off national debt

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Thing is, the federal debt in the USA has been spiralling so fast since 2000 that all of these "reports" and pointing to same as the portents of the Four Horsemen are going to go the way of the dodo in a dozen years or so - or less.

      All very well and good.

      But Mississippi isn't the Federal government, and Ms can tax whatever it likes without affecting the Federal deficit in the slightest.

      Note, by the way, that Ms, like pretty much all the States (and unlike the Federal government), are required to balance t

      • I didn't suggest Mississippi was the Federal Government. I did suggest - and do suggest - that the overall deficit burden at all local state and Federal levels is interdependent and is certain to result in cessations of funding and transfers from one government level to the next, requiring significant increase in taxation over the next 12 years to come close to maintaining current commitments.

        That means when the federal government runs a deficit, all ogvernment levels will ultimately be paying taxes to deal

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I didn't suggest Mississippi was the Federal Government. I did suggest - and do suggest - that the overall deficit burden at all local state and Federal levels is interdependent and is certain to result in cessations of funding and transfers from one government level to the next, requiring significant increase in taxation over the next 12 years to come close to maintaining current commitments.

          Not so much as you might think. Federal commitments are just that - Federal. If the Feds don't, or can't, send the

          • by rtrifts (61627)

            There seems to be a disconnect here. When the issue is one of an ability of a State government to pay its bills which it uses Federal money to do, - and the money stops - there are two choices:

            1 - find the money (that means taxes)
            2 - stop the program

            It's all well and good to shrug and say "not my problem". When the roads are crumbling and the bridges falling down, my guess is that Americans at all local and state levels may share another view.

            By the way, issuing long term debt and deficit financing are two

            • Actually, most of the "blue" states make a net contribution in federal taxes, while the "red" states take that contribution. If the federal government's aid to the states collapses, it will be the south that pays while the north shrugs and continues much as things are now. It could conceivably lead to another civil war along the old lines, over the same reason: Economics. The south simply doesn't have the money or natural resources to survive without the assistance of the north. -_-

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you misunderstand our method of government. Unlike most "western european" countries, our government is based on a division between the county, state, and federal levels. And it's not a clear division either. For example, a federal law trumps a state law, unless it happens to be in the state constitution, in which case only the federal constition can override or restrict it. You might imagine what merry hell this plays on our justice system (give you a hint: Everyone in this country is a felon, it's

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by rtrifts (61627)

        First, I'm a Canadian. I live in a federal state system, same as you do, ok?

        Second, I'm a lawyer. I understand how parmountcy and shared field theories of constitutional law work (probably much better than you).

        Third, I don't give a rat's ass about how you go about fixing your domestic problems or how you fix your fiscal policy. That's because they are not mine to fix; they are YOURS to fix. Find your own unique American solution, by all means. Take as much American excpetionalism as you can carry; fill yo

        • by compro01 (777531)

          1. No, speaking as another Canadian, their federal system is significantly different. There is a much stronger divide between state and federal law than there is between provincial and federal law.

          2. In terms of debt:GDP ratio, the US is roughly where we were at in the early 90s after the PCs got finished with things, and they're going into a recession, not coming out of one, so I really agree this is going to get ugly quickly.

      • by Peyna (14792)

        For example, a federal law trumps a state law, unless it happens to be in the state constitution, in which case only the federal constition can override or restrict it.

        Go back and read the Supremacy Clause again. It clearly says that federal law trumps state constitutions and state law.

        This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; a

    • ....That's the price you will ultimately have to pay for spending money for decades that you simply do not have....

      That is pure and unadulterated BS. We here, as most Americans cannot spend more money than we have or can borrow. Most credit cards have a limit. You also forget, that someone who has the authority to print money, (or program computer bits in a financial system) without going to jail, can never go bankrupt. Throughout most of human history, the medium of exchange we call money has always had so

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rtrifts (61627)

        I well understand the overall complexities of monetary policy. Spending money you do not have means borrowing it. You didn't have it, now you borrowed it. There. No you have it to spend.

        We're clear on that part, right?

        I'm not talking about pating the mortgage and groceries. Governments don't work that way. But in the end, they entire monetary system still depends upon governments paying it back - and being charged interest in the meanwhile.

        At the ned of tha day, when the interest on your debt forms such a g

  • In most EU countries there is a 17% VAT tax on electronic downloads. Has been that way for a couple of years.

    Why shouldn't it be taxed in the US?

    • by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:11PM (#27142585) Homepage Journal

      Because there's no "value added" by introducing a Value Added Tax.

      Why should a business transaction be taxed simply because it happened? Taxes are meant to give the government the bare minimum of income necessary to conduct government business, not to punish people for spending money they received in exchange for their labor.

    • Because the USA isn't the EU?

      Just because something exists in another country, doesn't mean it should be a world-wide trend.

      I live in Canada, we have a maple leaf on our flag, why shouldn't there be a maple leaf on the US flag?

      • Because we buy our syrup from you? :P ;)
      • by ZorinLynx (31751)

        Do you Canadians pay GST/PST on Internet downloads? Or at least GST?

        Just wondering since you have to pay it on pretty much everything else.

        • by Vectronic (1221470) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @07:32PM (#27143533)

          Yes and No... it depends on the Province, the size of the company, and wether you are selling in-province or out-of-province, in some it's 0, in others its anywhere from about 5% to as high as 18%.

          Selling outside of country is generally tax free, with exceptions like the EU, where there's some weird translated tax, where 'our' tax of the item gets sent to the EU.

          But naturally, because like all governments it's a clusterfuck of weird loopholes, there are ways around almost all the taxes. But I am by no means an expert on it, so if you really want to know, you'll have to look elsewhere.

      • Just because something exists in another country, doesn't mean it should be a world-wide trend.

        The problem is this: You can either pick

        1) Lots of government spending, and lots of all kinds of taxes to pay for it, including taxes on ether like digital downloads

        or

        2) Little government spending, and as a result fewer / no taxes.

        What those of use struggle with 'in other countries' is that USA has picked both lots of spending and no taxes. It's unsustainable. Pick one or the other, USA.

    • by Burdell (228580)

      The main reason is that sales taxes in the US are only at the state/county/city level, not the federal level. Many years ago, there was a federal court ruling against one state trying to charge sales tax on something bought in another state (I don't remember the details but I'm sure Google does), so mail-order businesses did not have to charge sales tax on shipments to states where they did not have a physical presence.

      Also, the way sales taxes are handled complicates collections on mail/web-order sales.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Just becasue it's done one way in the EU is no argument for why it should be done here.

  • Let's start with a fact: If you're over the age of 18 and have ever filed taxes, you're guilty of tax fraud. I don't know what law, but I assure you, you're a criminal. Shame on you. Now, that said, they can pass this law all they want... and it will only succeed in chasing any businesses operating in their state that sell software online away. And really, how many skilled programmers are you going to find in Mississippi anyway? Oh, sorry, that might be stereotyping. Shame on me. :) But seriously -- I sugge

  • ... figure the Misissippi tax on an Ubuntu .iso download.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      Depends on whether or not Microsoft lobbyists were involved in writing the bill ;) If they weren't 8% of $0 = $0. If they were then 8% of $0 = $1,000.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:15PM (#27142643) Journal

    You can tax my porn when you pry it from my wet sticky fingers ;)

    and that New York is considering taxing downloads of all kinds.

  • Good job, lawmakers. As we all know, the best way out of an economic recession or depression is to increase and create new taxes. After all, the fastest way to economic recovery is to increase the tax burden on citizens!

  • That's the last straw! I'm switching to fiber optic networking.
  • Bad news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759)

    The bad news is there might be a sales tax on downloads.

    The far, far worse news is you are in Missinhippie. Get out while you can.

  • by twoDigitIq (1352643) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:54PM (#27143073)
    Who the hell is "Mississippi Bill" and why does he care about software sales? He should probably devote more of his time to planning his upcoming battles with Minnesota Fats and the Cincinnati Kid.
  • by Buelldozer (713671) <{cliff} {at} {gindulis.net}> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @08:00PM (#27143863)

    So, will the downloads that Radio and Televsion stations make from their content providers be covered by this?

  • There are not software sales. As we have all learned, software is licensed. No sale, not tax. You want to tax it? Make it a sale, and let me do with it as I please.

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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