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Download Taxes As a Weapon Against File-Sharing 451

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-too-original-because-hey-this-is-hollywood dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An examination of a new "digital downloads" taxation law in Washington State suggests that files downloaded via file sharing programs may be covered by the law — meaning that you may be expected to pay taxes based on 'the value of the digital product ... determined by the retail selling price of a similar digital product.' Thus, if you were to download music or movies and not pay the taxes, would you be liable for tax evasion charges? How much do you want to bet the RIAA will push exactly that claim?"
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Download Taxes As a Weapon Against File-Sharing

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  • Does this cover VOD PPV as well?

    or is tax part of the price?

  • by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:10PM (#28201309)

    I'll pay them 8.25% of what I paid for the song.

    • Re:Sounds good... (Score:4, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:19PM (#28201479)
      I'd be happy to pay them 8.25% for anything I buy. Considering that would be a bit of a break off the 9.5% rate I pay now.
    • Re:Sounds good... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Magic5Ball (188725) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:25PM (#28201559)

      But you didn't download the song. You downloaded several chunks of random (encrypted) data which could be assembled into a song. The chunks didn't even all come from the same place.

      Also, if these downloads are illegal or part of illegal activity, there's a conceptual issue of being able to tax them in the first place, and secondly, an issue with the state using funds derived from the proceeds of crime.

      • That's how the feds got Al Capone.

        • Re:Sounds good... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Artifakt (700173) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:17PM (#28204515)

          I figured a Capone reference would show up in this thread. There's one difference though, Capone was sentenced to a mere 11 years and actually served only 7, even though the jury 'admitted' they were really trying to put him away for everything he had done. My bet is, before long, some file sharer will be serving more than that. America is becoming a nation of inspector Javerts.

      • Re:Sounds good... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:28PM (#28201631) Journal

        Conceptual issues are irrelevant. The RIAA has big, high paid lawyers who will bend you over a barrel and rape your virgin ass all while telling the judge how you downloaded a song and are now guilty of tax evasion.

        If they got Capone on tax evasion, they can sure as hell get you!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Magic5Ball (188725)

          Taxation on an activity has the effect of legitimizing it. Paying 15% of the value of an MP3 to the government still has advantages to paying 100% of the value to RIAA et al...

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

            by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @01:17AM (#28205945) Homepage

            Taxing an activity implies that you retain possession of the proceeds of that activity. So download a track, they report it and require that you erase it, you no longer have it and are thus you no longer pay tax on it. Sales tax is based upon the sale of an item, not it's perceived value or the method by which you obtained it. Take for example a wedding video. What would be the defined value of the recording to the families involved, thousands of dollars, so what sales tax should people pay who receive a copy of that video? So what tax should the bride and groom collect from people who receive a copy?

            Bear in mind that the RIAA et al wanted hardware that would break all recordings that contained copyrighted content, so wedding videos that were recorded while copyrights content was playing in the background where to be unplayable until every person who viewed the video paid a copyright licence fee to view that video into perpetuity and, of course now the required sales tax, so christenings, birthdays, anniversaries all are technically required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in copyright fees and now sales tax.

            The buyer never directly pays sales tax, the seller is required by law to add the value of sales tax to the sale price of the product, collect that sales tax and pay it too the government, so it is the seller who is charged with tax evasion, because regardless of the sales price of the product and percentage of that total price paid by the buyer must be paid by the seller to pay the legislated value of sales.

            Hmm, so the RIAAs buddies are subject to legal penalties for failing to collect and pay the required sales on all content viewed by civil, not criminal law infringing means, hmm, sounds like a good way to get the government more money and to eliminate the pigopolists, so win win. Of course throwing all those people in jail for not paying tax on their various highly valued family videos might be a bit extreme ;).

      • Re:Sounds good... (Score:4, Informative)

        by gartogg (317481) <sdamanNO@SPAMmindspring.om.tld> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:31PM (#28201683) Homepage Journal

        Wrong. You need to pay taxes on illegally gotten money. This is clear in the law, and there is no issue at all. Al Capone was nabbed for tax evasion on the money he earned illegally. And you downloaded a song, possibly in an encrypted format. If the data you got is intended to be re-assembled into a product with a value, you acquired it.

        If you don't know what you're talking about, don't.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Magic5Ball (188725)

          Per your suggestion, I'd like to learn more about what you have to say, specifically case law where it is established that:
          a) product==money
          b) product==earnings
          if those where the specific findings in the Capone case. Specific paragraph numbers from the ruling would be nice, but I'll take a case number.

          • Re:Sounds good... (Score:5, Informative)

            by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:00PM (#28202201) Journal

            While I certainly can't attempt to answer the above, I do offer IRS Publication 525: Taxable and Nontaxable Income [irs.gov], which offers these gems:
            Bribes. If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.
            Found property. If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is your undisputed possession.
            Illegal activities. Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.
            Kickbacks. You must include kickbacks, side commissions, push money, or similar payments you receive in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.
            Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.

            • by N3Roaster (888781) <nealw.acm@org> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:13PM (#28202439) Homepage Journal

              Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.

              I wonder... If you steal something and in the same year are caught by law enforcement who then confiscates the stolen something and does not return it to its rightful owner, do you still need to pay the tax on it? This would seem to be a good opportunity for interdepartmental information sharing for the purpose of reducing tax increases on honest, hard working Americans.

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

                by dimeglio (456244) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:47PM (#28203751)

                Put a classified add in the papers: "found MP3 songs on hard disk, looking for rightful owner to return it to. If unclaimed in 30 days it is presumed that I can keep them. Please contact ....." That should demonstrate due diligence from your part and keep you away from those RIAA lawyers.

                RIAA: Hon. judge, the accused has downloaded 30 songs illegally. Here is the evidence.
                Accused: I did no such thing, however, when I discovered them I wanted to returned them to their rightful owners, hence this classified ad in the NY Times.
                Judge: bailif please bring this here.
                Accused: It has been 30 days last month and no one has yet claimed them.
                Judge: Thank-you accused for doing the right thing, Case dismissed!

                Food for thought...

        • Re:Sounds good... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:17PM (#28202499)

          I think they would need to prove that
          a) I didn't rip it from my CD (and then the CD was lost/broke/destroyed so I no longer own it).
          b) I didn't record it off of the radio.
          c) I didn't record it off of my cable music channels.
          d) I didn't record it off of an internet radio station.
          e) I wasn't given the song by someone else who owned it legally and gave me their only copy.

          Still- it's a novel concept and it motivates the government to do RIAA's enforcement for them. Once again externalizing corporate costs.
          Given the hell that is coming in the economy, I wonder if it will be worth it.

          e) Provides the most interesting possibilities for creating extremely long chains of custody between various people who each legally owned the song and gave it to each other. For example, you could give your only copy of a song (not retaining anything) and take another song from a library. You can do this now legally. We check out DVD's for tv series and movies and CD's for songs from our library. You listen to it for a while and then return it.

          ---

          Something that people always trip up on (in TV shows and in real life) is that lying or conspiring is often a separate crime. So they fail to get you on the original charge but can show that you lied or conspired to break the law and so you are tagged for that. Basically, so much is illegal now that if the government really wants to put you in prison it probably can.

    • Re:Sounds good... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:26PM (#28201595) Homepage Journal

      Considering how often the RIAA and ilk try to push the idea that downloading is stealing, I think we should use it against them, if they do try to pull this stunt.

      Do I get charged with tax evasion of 8.25% of the value, if I steal a car? No. I get charged with car theft.

      So if the RIAA think downloading is stealing, I should be charged with theft, not tax evasion. But downloading is not stealing, it's copyright violation, so I shouldn't be charged with theft, either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Brian Gordon (987471)
        I think that if you sell stolen goods and make tons of money then you do have to pay taxes on it or you face tax evasion charges.
        • so then are you selling the digital content you download? if not, that analogy doesnt hold up too well.

          • Well that's income tax but this new tax would be a sales tax, and there is such a thing as sales tax evasion.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Mr2001 (90979)

              First, sales tax is owed by the seller, not the buyer.

              Second, there's only a sale if money changes hands. If you give something away for free, you don't owe sales tax on it. The recipient might owe income tax on the gift, but there's an exemption up to a certain amount anyway: when was the last time you paid tax on a present someone gave you?

      • Amazing Quantum Man made a good point, the government can make you pay taxes on anything, even ill gotten gains. That is how they got Capone. The IRS does not care whether you earned it saving kids or selling heroin to them; they just want their cut. Since the burden of proof is different -- the onus is on the one in possession of the facts -- then prosecution is much easier.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hackstraw (262471)

        Sounds like this would be great for the end user. All live recordings would be reduced to free because here is the current value: http://www.archive.org/details/etree [archive.org] . Most all software would be free because of http://www.gnu.org/ [gnu.org] and http://kernel.org/ [kernel.org] , and http://sf.net/ [sf.net] .

        Basically, everything will asymptote to $0.00, and any percentage of that is also $0.00. I doubt the lawmakers thought of it that way, now did they?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by bugi (8479)

          My guess is that downloads of linux distributions would be taxed based on msWindows retail sale value. After all, msWindows is the dominant computer operating system.

  • So does this mean I will just have to pay taxes on the items I pirate, and not for the items themselves?

    • by rjstanford (69735) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:29PM (#28201647) Homepage Journal

      So if I was to upload pirated movies, could I claim a tax deduction for their value as well?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:55PM (#28202133)
        *bludgeons you repeatedly* WERE, WERE. This is not Kentucky!
        • WERE (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RudeIota (1131331)

          So if I was to upload pirated movies

          *bludgeons you repeatedly* WERE, WERE. This is not Kentucky!

          "was" and "were" as used here are both correct -- which shows the AC's ignorance.

          The only nit pick you can make is that the subjunctive mood of "was" in this case (probably) isn't as correct as "were" in this sentence. If given the choice, "were" is a better fit because the sentence implies something that (probably) isn't something the GP was going to do, but if the GP were really considering claming pirated movies, then "was" would actually be the most appropriate word choice.

          The best choice is merely s

  • Drug tax stamps? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:10PM (#28201313) Homepage Journal

    Don't forget to buy your drug tax stamps while you're at the post office.

  • by Yossarian45793 (617611) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:10PM (#28201331)
    Technically whenever you order a product from another state and the seller doesn't withhold sales tax on the purchase, you're required to pay that sales tax in your state. Nobody does this -- so technically nearly everyone is guilty of this kind of tax evasion. How is this any different?
    • by internerdj (1319281) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:14PM (#28201413)
      TFA says if the download has no purchase price, then it is taxed based on the purchase price of similar items. So if you download a track from an indie artist or public domain for free you still owe a tax as if you had purchased it for the average going rate of an mp3 on iTunes...
      • by Tiro (19535) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:21PM (#28201511) Journal
        Interesting. How much should FreeBSD or Darwin OS cost? Similar to Linux, to Mac OS X or to Windows? What about XCode tools, a 1GB+ dvd image? Pretty much impossible to implement this without pissing everyone off.
        • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAm.yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:27PM (#28201601) Journal

          Crap. I have free software worth tens of thousands of dollars on my computer at home. I shudder to think how much we have here at work. I'm thinking Microsoft might want in on this action, to put a tax smackdown on Open Source.

        • Interesting. How much should FreeBSD or Darwin OS cost? Similar to Linux, to Mac OS X or to Windows? What about XCode tools, a 1GB+ dvd image? Pretty much impossible to implement this without pissing everyone off.

          The GPL stuff is easy. You can sell GPL stuff at a price that reasonably covers your distribution costs and overhead. Average what the major repos pay in bandwidth and admin costs per download, and you have your ballpark market price. Claiming that FreeBSD is most similar to Linux in terms of ho

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            You can sell GPL stuff at a price that reasonably covers your distribution costs and overhead.

            You can sell it for any price you care to name. The source, on the other hand, you're required to provide for reasonable distribution costs.

        • by gartogg (317481)

          The key issue would be to define "similar." The courts will define it as the same good as purchased in a store, not as the value of a different product. Courts are reasonable in cases like this, and interpret intent, to some extent at least. I think it is clear here, as badly phrased as it was, that "similar" was intended to mean the same item in a different format, not similar in the colloquial sense.

          • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:55PM (#28203051)

            The key issue would be to define "similar." The courts will define it as the same good as purchased in a store, not as the value of a different product

            Good. Then I need not worry. I'm not downloading DVDs, what I'm downloading are entirely different products. A downloaded film compressed to a 700 MB AVI is different from a 4 GB film in a VOB file recorded on a DVD.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        TFA says if the download has no purchase price, then it is taxed based on the purchase price of similar items. So if you download a track from an indie artist or public domain for free you still owe a tax as if you had purchased it for the average going rate of an mp3 on iTunes...

        No, TFA says "acquired by means other than a purchase".
        Even if you were right, that's still an idiotic interpretation of the law.
        The equivalent cost of free or public domain is zero, not iTunes.
        Further, the actual bill declares that purchase price = sales price.
        So zero = zero.

      • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @08:14AM (#28207741) Homepage

        TFA is wrong. TFB (the fucking bill) says there is no tax on digital goods an end user receives for free

        The provisions of this chapter do not apply in respect to the use of digital products or digital codes obtained by the end user free of charge.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Well, the deal here is that they were supposed to be taxing those sales already, this measure would just even the playing field between those that sell physical discs and those that just sell downloads. They're both supposed to be taxed in the same way, it's just that at present they aren't.

      And you are right, the moratorium is on collecting sales tax, not on paying it. But then again, we're supposed to be able to deduct it and it took a really long time for that mess to get fixed.

      As for tax evasion,
    • by langelgjm (860756)
      Yeah, I noticed this on my CT state tax return this year. You're supposed to tally up all your purchases from Amazon and Newegg and pay sales tax on that. Needless to say, I purchased nothing from Amazon or Newegg last year.
    • by Chabo (880571)

      Nobody does this -- so technically nearly everyone is guilty of this kind of tax evasion.

      Not if you live in New Hampshire! :)

  • Al Capone (Score:2, Informative)

    Tax evasion is what put Al Capone away.
  • by guspasho (941623) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:13PM (#28201383)

    So if I were to download Ubuntu, would I have to pay taxes based on Windows Vista or Windows 7? Ultimate? Professional? Home starter?

  • "file sharing" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drDugan (219551) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:18PM (#28201457) Homepage

    How do they plan to handle legitimate file sharing, e.g. content released without a fee or supported by voluntary sponsorship?

    Do they plan to tax that too?

    If they plan to handle it differently, how will they assess the legal status of the bits being shared?
    If they plan to handle it the same, that seems grossly unfair to the artists and independent producers.

    • Re:"file sharing" (Score:4, Informative)

      by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:45PM (#28202913) Homepage Journal

      How do they plan to handle legitimate file sharing

      That is what this law is about. What do you mean "plan to?" This law says what they're going to try to do about it: tax it as though you had paid more than you did.

      Legitimate downloads are the whole ostensible point of this law, and people are now noticing that it gives RIAA/MPAA a new angle in dealing with illegitimate downloads.

      If they plan to handle it the same, that seems grossly unfair to the artists and independent producers.

      So, it's unfair. So what? No politician ever lost re-election votes for creating unfair laws. Voters love this kind of stuff and reward it ever chance they get.

  • by paeanblack (191171) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:19PM (#28201477)

    If I won a $10,000 iTunes gift card, I'd have to pay taxes on that. (Assuming deductions/exemptions were unavailable/already used)
    If somebody gave me $10,000 as a gift, I'd have to pay taxes on that. (Assuming deductions/exemptions were unavailable/already used)
    If somebody "gives" me $10,000 in music via bittorrent, why on earth should that be tax-exempt?

    In almost every state, items purchased out-of-state must be declared and a "use tax" is due when imported. There is a reasonable exemption limit so you don't have to declare that bag of Cheetos you bought driving home from trip, but if you purchase a car in New Hampshire to avoid Massachusetts sales tax, you still owe money to Massachusetts, and they will collect it.

    Just because you downloaded it doesn't mean you shouldn't pay gift/sale taxes. Taxes are part of life. Deal.

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:24PM (#28201557)

      If someone gave you $10,000 gift card it'd be a gift. They paid the taxes when they bought it.

      Go to the store. Buy X as a gift for someone. Notice the line at the bottom that says "Tax".

      Only time it's tax exempt is if you're going to resell it. I had friends who bought stuff at Sams Club to sell in their small gas station, they didn't pay taxes at Sams. Their customers paid tax at their place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      In the USA, as of around 10 years ago, gifts to family members of $10,000 or less did not have to be reported and were not taxable income.

    • I'm not paying tax on bits that move around any more than I'm paying tax on the air I breathe. The taxing authority can go suck it, and come try to collect on data I've pushed through a VPN.
    • by nxtw (866177) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:41PM (#28201885)

      If you buy used CDs for $1 each, do you pay taxes on the $1 price or on the original retail value?
      If you record FM radio on a cassette player, do you pay taxes based on how much the songs would have cost to buy on a casette tape?
      If you record a song from Internet radio on your computer, do you pay tax based on the cost for the radio service to license that song and transmit it to you?
      If you download the 30 second sample of a 3 minute song, do you pay tax on 1/6th of the purchase price?

    • If somebody "gives" me $10,000 in music via bittorrent, why on earth should that be tax-exempt?

      For one thing, because that $10,000 would probably end up being the value that the RIAA places on it, meaning you'd pay 10% of $10000 for one song, which is absurd. It wouldn't be what I value it, but that's not because the RIAA is right, it's just because the RIAA spends more than I do on lobbyists.

    • Because in your case, you're talking about an object with a definite monetary worth: a gift certificate for an amount, or a pile of money with set value.

      Market value on the Internet is a much more squirrely proposition. Outright purchases are one thing, but "gifts" become a whole different beast. There's plenty on the Internet that's made available for free, but does the same job as priced alternatives. Which one is the real cost? What does it mean to give something to somebody without actually losing

    • The reason it's unreasonable is this:

      Who's tax code is applied? The place where the person lives? The place where the server that processed the transaction is? The place where the store's server is? The location of the head office of the company? A branch of the company?

      If I paid taxes on it when I purchased it, and the taxes went to where the item originated, am I liable for the taxes in my home state? I prefer the system of self-reporting mentioned elsewhere in the comments: on your tax form, you state ho

  • They already make you pay taxes on it ;).

  • So if I see a person or corporate entity using a spider/URL reference to some copyright material I can log the action and report them. great.

    So I create a 6Gb data file. Size of movie, link it from my home page. If I see a google spider hit it I report the download to the IRS.
    Fun times.

    Time to create some tiny URL's and seed them in appropriate places.

  • by wol (10606) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:28PM (#28201635)

    Assuming I download a copy of Gimp (gpl and free software), does that mean that I now need to pay a tax equal to what I would have to pay if I bought a copy of Photoshop?

  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:35PM (#28201757) Homepage Journal

    It occurs to me that if this happens, it has the potential to be applied to anything else that's covered by copyright. Consider the results.

    If you check a book out from your local library and read it, you'll be liable for the sales tax on the retail price of the same book (at a book seller of the prosecution's choice).

    If you leave a newspaper (hey, remember them?) lying around in your house and a visitor reads it, they'll be liable for the sales tax on not just that paper, but for a subscription to the newspaper.

    If your local school has textbooks that they let students study from, those students (or their parents) will be liable for the sales tax on the price of the books.

    If a store is playing music audible from wherever you may be (sitting at a table in a restaurant, using an elevator, walking by on the sidewalk), you are liable for the sales tax on the album that contains the music that you heard.

    Since everything is by default copyrighted as soon as it's "published" (whatever that actually means), any time you read anything from any source or hear anything that was recorded, you will be required to learn the retail price for the copyrighted work, and pay the sales tax on it.

    We've been in the habit of being a bit bemused by the fact that, when the authorities don't have any evidence against some supposed criminal, they customarily just charge them with tax evasion. But this is no longer just something that big-time Mafia capos and politicians have to worry about. Now we can all be tax evaders, by merely reading something somewhere and neglecting to determine its retail sales price so we can pay the sales tax.

    And I can make you a criminal by merely putting copyrighted text somewhere that you read it, or by putting recorded sound somewhere that you hear it.

    It can be fun to think of what might be the ultimate motive for passing laws like this. Look up the phrase "nuisance law" for further explanation.

  • OpenOffice.org (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:36PM (#28201779)

    'the value of the digital product ... determined by the retail selling price of a similar digital product.'

    They'll make a lot of money off downloads of OpenOffice.org... which is similar to the outrageously priced Microsoft Office.

  • by MoFoQ (584566) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:38PM (#28201823)

    Under the "strict" reading, can't this also be applied to various open source projects?
    For instance, GIMP [gimp.org] is a powerful image manipulation program, that to some rivals Adobe's Photoshop and Corel's Paint Shop.
    And if this asinine law were to be strictly applied to this program, it could be disastrous. Especially considering the $500 or so price tag of Photoshop (Paint Shop can be as little as 20 bucks to 50 bucks depending on various rebates).

    What about Debian? Wasn't there an article just recently on Slashdot that calculated the cost it took to develop Debian 5?

    Or Ubuntu?
    Or Chrome/Firefox/Opera?

    And don't forget independent or forward-thinking musicians and artists (including writers) who publish their digital works online for free.
    How will they be affected? Will this law become another tool for big corporations and entities to abuse to kill off the independent artists?

    Some things to think about, especially since they do say that the devil is in the details.

  • Let's see if I know my math... (the price I paid) x (the tax rate) still = 0 cuz I paid nothing... if anything this will encourage piracy, cuz then you don't have to pay tax!
  • First people get sued for imaginary losses, then they get taxed for imaginary gains. Maybe we should just give both the RIAA and the government open access to our bank accounts, and let them take whatever they want without having to make up a reason.

  • Can't there be any other solution to a problem than taxing something?

    I will be glad for them to fight online piracy once police have cleaned up the streets. Once murder, rape, burglary, bank robbing, drink driving and so on are under control then the police can focus on copyright infringement.

  • When did the 'buyer' become responsible for paying sales tax to the government? I thought that the seller collected the sales tax from the buyer to give to the government. Are they going to come after me for the sales tax on a CD I bought at a local store if the seller doesn't send in the tax?

  • This is surprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:20PM (#28202547) Homepage Journal
    Traditionally retailers have gotten in trouble for doing anything based on the retail sales price. First, there can only be a suggested retail price, to prevent price fixing, Second, retailers have paid settlements due to the fact that the 'retail price' or 'comparison price' was an arbitrary number used solely to make it appear that the consumer was getting a discount. One retailer went out business based the fact that it could not longer claim to offer discount mechandise, the priced it sold for was basically the same as everyone else, and other have to put disclaimers such as 'no sales may have been made at the state retail price.'

    Some might say this not retailers setting a base price, but the government, so it is ok. I think, though, this is still in effect price fixing, a it sets, at least within a state, a fixed priced for a given product. Though this may not result in a fixed price, which only lead to increase inflation as retailers are forced to overcompensate when price adjustments are allowed, it is certainly still an unwarranted obstruction of the free market.

    If this is allowed, what is next? Minimum taxes on each transaction at the grocery store. If I want too offer buy two, get on free, do I have to pay taxes as if I bought three items? Do I have to pay tax on the total before the coupon?

    I am absolutely in favor of taxes, after all the roads need to be fixed, the soldiers need a fair chance of getting a new leg when the original gets blown off, children need to be educated, but the tax must be based on real product or services. This will be the beginning of a serious problem. Just imagine getting advice for you computer from a professional. No charge, buddy, but the retail value fo my time is $200, so I have to charge you fifteen bucks in tax.

If it smells it's chemistry, if it crawls it's biology, if it doesn't work it's physics.

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