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Microsoft To Get $100M Annual Tax Cut and Amnesty 406

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the legal-but-questionable dept.
reifman writes "Despite a $2.8 billion deficit, Washington State's House Bill 3176 would provide Microsoft with an effective $100 million tax cut annually and possible amnesty on its $1.27 billion Nevada tax maneuverings. Under current law, all of Microsoft's worldwide licensing revenues of approximately $20.7 billion annually are taxable at .484 percent. Under the new law, only the portion of software licenses sold to Washington state customers would be taxable. Ironically, after slashing Microsoft's tax burden, HB3176 directs the Department of Revenue to crack down on 'abusive tax transactions' like those in Nevada — except for a loophole that may provide Microsoft amnesty on its twelve year practice. The bill's lead sponsor is Ross Hunter of Medina, home to Bill Gates and a number of current and former Microsoft billionaires and multi-millionaires, and other areas around Microsoft's corporate campus."
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Microsoft To Get $100M Annual Tax Cut and Amnesty

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:01PM (#31148488) Journal

    The bill's lead sponsor is Ross Hunter of Medina ...

    The article's update notes:

    Update: Rep. Hunter is a former Microsoft general manager.

    As does his bio [wa.gov]:

    PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
    I retired from Microsoft in 2000 after 17 years of service ranging from program manager for Microsoft Access to general manager of the Microsoft Commercial Internet System.

    At this point apathy consumes the rage that would normally well up inside me ... Halliburten got contract after contract with a former employee as vice president of the United States ... should this sponsorship surprise me? I guess it doesn't fall under conflict of interest though a large part of me feels it should ...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:04PM (#31148534)

      As a Washington state resident who also considers the amount of the state's budget deficit, I can't figure out how even a representative with MS ties could figure that this move should be viewed favorably. Let's shoot this down folks.

      • by Cryacin (657549) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:09PM (#31148602)
        There's so much back scratching going on here that these guys must sleep on their stomach. I'm sick to mine.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't get why people don't understand that corporations don't pay taxes. Taxes are just another expense that gets added into the final price of the product. It doesn't matter that they actually write the check, you pay Microsoft's corporate taxes every time you buy one of their products. We should eliminate them entirely. Nearly every company in the world would want to be headquartered in the US if we had no corporate taxes, imagine how many jobs that would create. The end result would be a wash for the a

        • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:52PM (#31149088) Homepage

          I don't get why people don't understand that corporations don't pay taxes. Taxes are just another expense that gets added into the final price of the product. It doesn't matter that they actually write the check, you pay Microsoft's corporate taxes every time you buy one of their products.

          Product prices will be the highest the market can bear, regardless of expenses. Software already has massive profit margins, so taxes merely eat into those profits, thus depriving the company from money they can use to buy other companies, run ad campaigns, pay bribes and manipulate market in other ways.

          We should eliminate them entirely. Nearly every company in the world would want to be headquartered in the US if we had no corporate taxes, imagine how many jobs that would create.

          Corporate headquarters are only considered useful for locals because THEY PAY TAXES. The local employment they provide mostly consists of secretaries and janitors.

          • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Monday February 15, 2010 @07:53PM (#31150496)
            That explains why MS software is so sub-par and MS advertising is so laughably terrible... it's all being written and designed by secretaries and janitors...
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by mysidia (191772)

              Actually.. I think it's being designed by secretaries, and written by armies of trained monkeys.

              Which explains the bugs.

              The janitorial work was outsourced to a contracter that is (secretly) owned by a competitor, a long time ago.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bondsbw (888959)

            Product prices will be the highest the market can bear, regardless of expenses. Software already has massive profit margins, so taxes merely eat into those profits, thus depriving the company from money they can use to buy other companies, run ad campaigns, pay bribes and manipulate market in other ways.

            Which costs more, $9.99 worth of gas, or a video game priced at $9.99 on the shelf? The video game, of course, because tax is included in the price of gas but not the price of software. You're not wrong, but perception is key. There's a reason that game doesn't cost $10.00; it's the same reason that $999 is a magical price point for many desktop/notebook makers.

            Let's go to a different world for a minute, where all sales prices include tax... do you think a laptop would still go for $1078? Probably not.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:12PM (#31151384)

            Oh you silly billy if high tech corporations moved to where taxes are lower Apple would be in Mississippi and Google would be in New Hampshire. Instead these companies need intellectual talent which is drawn by the availability of educational, cultural, medical, etc. infrastructure supported by high taxes. This is yet another case of the law of unexpected consequences, lower taxes saps the infrastructure which ultimately decreases the quality of the available labor pool.
            In my view corporations have a duty to maximize profits for their owners but governments have a duty of build a civilization. Too often politicians forget this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          It's simple, really: Corporations pay taxes because, legally, they are distinct entities carrying on whatever their business is. That is the basis on which the "limited liability" thing hangs.

          If corporate taxes were such a crushing burden, you'd see a lot fewer LLCs. Apparently, though, limited liability is quite valuable.
        • by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:09PM (#31149328)
          Regardless of how you may feel about taxes, it really isn't at issue. Here we have a company breaking the law, and using its influence to avoid the consequences, and to seek special treatment under the law.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ClosedSource (238333)

          "I don't get why people don't understand that corporations don't pay taxes."

          That's why corporations never lobby against corporate tax increases .. oh wait.

    • by Phrogman (80473) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:14PM (#31148666) Homepage

      Politicians get into power by getting corporate sponsorship, once they are there they quite naturally pay back the favour. Really, the Politicians are not much more than Corporate Representatives in Government. There is the minor formality of convincing the public to vote for the company candidate but you just throw money at that and hire good advertising companies.

      The US has the best politicians the corporations can buy.

      Sadly up here in Canada, its no different as far as I can see. I still believe in democracy, but I am no longer sure we still have it :(

      • by maxume (22995) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:19PM (#31148724)

        Democracy is a compromise, not something that requires or benefits from belief.

        "I used to believe in forcing my neighbors to do things, but then they started forcing me to do things."

        • by Phrogman (80473)

          I am not talking religious belief there. I meant that if I didn't still think that democracy was a worthwhile process to participate in, then I wouldn't continue to participate in it. I am also concerned that the current system as present in Canada (and likely in the US) is too compromised by the power of corporations to influence elections, and that the candidates who do get elected have to make some compromises to their ideals, and end up helping out the companies that supported them as a means of payback

        • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:51PM (#31149070)

          If enough people do not believe the system is fair, it will end violently.

          It absolutely depends on belief-- partially belief that was brainwashed into us from the time we were in 1st grade and partially belief from propaganda constantly delivered by all the media sources ( "liberal", "conservative" -- no real difference- all are owned by extremely wealthy individuals and corporations and serve the same brainwashing crap).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Genda (560240)

          Actually we (The United States) are not a Democracy (the closest thing we have, that comes close to it are New England Town-hall Meetings.) Instead we have a representative republic, whose underlying ideal is that everyone get's represented, and that representatives, (wo)men of education and wisdom, manage the gap between mob rule, and sane, prudent and morally just government. As well, our founding fathers in their great wisdom, built a form of government that should have been well hamstrung by checks and

      • by lord_rotorooter (1482955) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:11PM (#31149368)
        They should then be required to where corporate logos on their suits just like they do in NASCAR...
    • Re:The other side (Score:5, Insightful)

      by prakslash (681585) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:15PM (#31148678)
      To play devil's advocate, giving tax breaks to attract/keep major businesses is a normal thing for state governments. After all, these businesses bring in major direct (income taxes) and indrect revenue (local employees' property taxes, sales taxes etc) to the state. Nine years ago, Boeing ditched Seattle and moved to Chicago [nytimes.com] partly because of tax breaks offered by Chicago.
      • No Income taxes (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There are no Income Taxes in Washington State.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_USA_highlighting_states_with_no_income_tax_on_wages.svg

      • Re:The other side (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tsm_sf (545316) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:33PM (#31148890) Journal

        The problem isn't whether companies will make smart business decisions (e.g. moving to friendlier tax areas), it's that this is a highly visible example of "he who has the gold makes the rules".

        Everybody knows that wealthy people receive preferential treatment in our society, but nobody likes having their nose rubbed in it. A situation like this one with MS, coming at tax time, just feels like a big middle finger.

      • Re:The other side (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:10PM (#31149344)

        Illinois is set to become the next California. This post points [slashdot.org] out that Cali gave huge breaks to tech companies.

        Giving 'tax breaks' doesn't seem to be sustainable long term for states.

        Seriously, this entire state is one huge cluster fuck dictated by a single geographical area. It needs to be roped off, along with Gary, and made its own state.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Demonspawn (187073)

          Giving 'tax breaks' doesn't seem to be sustainable long term for states.

          It's sustainable as long as the voters don't vote themselves enough "gifts" from other people's money to the point where the state can no longer afford to give tax breaks to attract business/wealthy individuals.

          Unfortunately, "Take some damn responsibility for yourself" buys less votes than "I'll give you more gifts from the public treasury!"

          The Tea Party should adopt a new slogan: "No representation without taxation" Honestly, if you're not paying for the government you vote for, do you deserve to influen

        • red and blue (Score:4, Interesting)

          by zogger (617870) on Monday February 15, 2010 @08:36PM (#31150832) Homepage Journal

          You are seeing the red state/blue state sort-of lie. We don't really have that division as much as we have red areas, primarily rural and suburban, and blue areas, primarily major metropolitan areas. You can see it on the larger election maps, most fixate on the entire statewide breakdown and how the vote went in total there, but if you look at it state by state by state, the same red/blue split shows up, and it is primarily urban versus "other".

              So what happens is the metro areas in most of the states dominate politics, they have the edge in population a little bit, in most states now, and institute policies and laws that never really fit their *entire* respective states. What you said about Illinois and Chicago is true facts, the same applies to like NYC and the rest of NY, or here where I am, Atlanta versus the rest of the state.

          Here is an interesting site that breaks this political split down more with various maps and corrected projections. It is quite interesting and there are links to more detailed analysis. The gist of it is, in the big elections and the general political pull of the nation, it is urban versus everyone else all the time. It fluctuates a little bit, but not much really.

          http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/ [umich.edu]

          The quickest way to see it on that page is first look at the normal state by state red/blue split (this is a look at the 2008 election), then scroll down to the first "Election results by county" map. The differences are very easy to see there and profoundly obvious.

          Causes all sorts of problems all the time, and will continue to do so. And it isn't fair either way you look at it, from either perspective. There really needs to be a different political arrangement, so the major urban areas can have various laws that fit them much better, but without insisting on the same exact laws in the rural areas, and vice versa. As in maybe drop the notion of the political boundaries we have now and switch to what the boundaries really are, smallish city-states and huge "other than that" states as separate political entities.

              We have federal and state governments that keep trying to hammer square pegs into round holes and it just doesn't work very well, there is no real compromise even possible that would work and be more acceptable to all concerned.

              And it's not like this wasn't anticipated back at the beginning of our Union, this was the original idea with having both senators and representatives, instead of just representatives...That fix didn't last long, primarily I think because they didn't think it through far enough ahead in time to the point where there would be so many multi million person large cities, inside virtually every state in the nation. They thought it would remain like less populated states versus more populated, not realizing the political split would fall inside every single state for the same reasons, that urban realities are just different from the rural and suburban.

          • Re:red and blue (Score:4, Insightful)

            by scotch (102596) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:00PM (#31151320) Homepage
            There's this core assumption in your post that geographical areas are somehow important independent of the people that live there, that somehow a person occupying 100 square miles is more important that a person occupying 1/10th of an acre. Land without people is just land. People without land are still people.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MrHanky (141717)

        Great idea. You may want to take a look at the economy of The Republic of Ireland [wikipedia.org], Iceland [wikipedia.org], Romania [hotnews.ro] and a few others before considering it. (Spoiler: it tends to fail spectacularly.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432)

        That would make more sense if Washington actually had income taxes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CodeBuster (516420)

        After all, these businesses bring in major direct (income taxes)

        The State of Washington, where Microsoft headquarters is located in Redmond, has no state income tax [wikipedia.org]

    • Back in the 90's when MS was in trouble with the DOJ they had an epiphany. Hire lobbyists and donate to campaigns to get the feds off your back. It hasn't failed them since.

      Perhaps if Toyota could field some candidates, or buy a few, they would get rid of their latest headache.

      • by MikeURL (890801)
        Google is also in the process of learning that lesson. There is an implied agreement that if you are a big corporation you will sponsor a huge Washington lobby. If you don't they will screw you in ways both subtle and not-so-subtle. It isn't like it is only corporations that are at fault.

        If there is no viable third party alternative soon then there will be no way to get back. When the SC struck down the laws on corporate funding of political campaigns that pretty much set the timer. Americans have,
      • 1. Accept money from MS competitors
        2. Investigate MS
        3. Take MS to court and win
        4. MS has an epiphany
        5. Accept money from MS
        6. Profit!

    • by lwsimon (724555)

      If the government was properly limited to its moral role, and using the tax code to generate revenue instead of a means to modify behavior, this wouldn't be a problem, now would it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:05PM (#31148546)

    Our system of government may not be the best, but it's the best that money can buy!

    • I wonder what would happen, if I created a website, where people could propose things the government should to, and then everybody could throw his cash in for it, so that someone would buy the government with that money.

      Oh wait, that’s called “campaign sponsoring“ in an “election”.

      Votes? What’s that?

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:06PM (#31148562)

    the obscene things is that the reason these get passed is that every other member of congress gets the same or better for their wealthy constituents.

  • by alen (225700) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:09PM (#31148600)

    every state does this to lure companies and jobs to their states. every company including Google, Apple and all the slashdot favorites take advantage of this. one reason why Silicon Valley and the movie industry are in California and don't move their industries elsewhere is because California gives out big tax breaks to tech and the movie industries. in the last few years they talked about taking them away and everyone involved told the idiot legislators that it would result in an exodus out of the state. just like the home contractors left after the idiotic workman's comp rules went into effect a few years ago.

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:15PM (#31148674) Homepage

      Ok, I can get how tech companies can relocate if they don't like your local taxes, but home contractors?

      If you want a home built in California, you're going to have to have somebody do the work under California law. So, how would home contractors have any leverage, unless CA wanted to impose regulations on their activities out-of-state?

      Sure, maybe some would choose not to do business there any longer, but I doubt that in a recession that anybody is going to have trouble finding somebody to take their money to build a house.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        "Ok, I can get how tech companies can relocate if they don't like your local taxes, but home contractors?"

        Absolutely this can happen. I contracted to have a house built for me on the west side of Los Angeles and in the middle of it all my contractor just up and moved out of the state. But really, it hasn't been a problem. Except that my house ended up in Iowa.

    • every state does this to lure companies and jobs to their states.

      Well, exactly. Claiming that WA is losing $X or that Microsoft is getting $X in subsidies is no different from the RIAA claiming that a pirated song is the same as a lost sale. The actual cost to WA is the amount of money spent providing services to the Microsoft campus, not how much they would be paying if some tax or another were invoked. I dare say they get a lot more money from taxing Microsoft's employees than they they'd collect between the day they began taxing Microsoft directly and the day that Mic

  • just a proposal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:10PM (#31148612)
    Has this been voted into law as the summary and title suggests?

    Or is this a proposal that us Washingtonians get a chance to contact our representatives about and make sure they understand how important it is to us?

    I like representative democracy. It sometimes works.
  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:11PM (#31148634)

    I have no objection to the government taxing my income at 0.484%

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      True...but just to be clear (and I speak as someone who owns a business in Washington), the specific tax in question is the state "Business and Occupation" tax, which (for manufacturing activities, at least) is a tax levied at .484% of the gross revenue of the business - not the net income, not the net profit, but the gross total of checks that came in the door . Yes, it's pretty bizarro, but then without a state personal or corporate income tax, they do what they can to keep the lights on in the Capital B
      • So? Why does it matter that it's on gross income and not net income? The government taxes me based on gross income, why shouldn't it tax corporations the same way? Corporations fight for their rights as "individuals" under the law, they use utilities just like everyone else. Frankly, I'm sick of corps getting special treatment just because they have tons of money. I know why it happens; jobs in a state are important and politicians will do anything to keep them there but it's a bit frustrating when a state
        • Most businesses make a total net profit of about 3% to 7%. So a .5% gross tax would take 1/6th to 1/14th of their profit.
          I.e. you buy 1,000 dollars worth of wood and build a piano that you sell for 1,100 dollars. You are not getting taxed on the 100 dollars left over after costs- you are getting taxed on the 1,100 dollars. The lower the companies net profits, the more likely a tax like this is to take their entire net profit.

          It would be sort of like if the government took .5% of your gross income from yo

        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:03PM (#31149238)

          You obviously know nothing about business. Taxing revenue instead of profit is idiotic; this means that a company that has a very high profit margin because their operating expenses are low has a big advantage over a company that has high operating expenses.

          For instance, look at Boeing, a big WA state employer. They build big, expensive planes. These planes aren't expensive just because Boeing decides to set the price on them at $250 million. They're expensive because it costs a lot to build a big plane: parts, materials, labor, safety testing, etc. That plane might cost a quarter-billion dollars, but only a small portion of that is profit, the rest is money they have to pay out for labor expenses, for raw materials costs, for parts from their suppliers, etc. Why should they pay taxes on all of that? You get to deduct your student loan and home loan interest from your taxes, as well as other things like medical expenses, and other unavoidable things.

          Whereas some company that just does, for instance, motivational speeches, is almost pure profit (except for the rent for conference rooms or wherever).

          Only a moron would think it's OK to tax companies on gross income. The effect of this is that companies will do whatever they can to reduce operational expenses, including cutting labor costs, outsourcing, cheapening their parts and materials (leading to poor quality), eliminating testing (leading to people dying when airplanes crash), etc. Every decent governmental entity does not tax on expenses; in fact, companies don't even normally pay sales tax for anything which will be used for resale.

          • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday February 15, 2010 @07:16PM (#31150160)

            Um, the parent was asking why its okay to tax people on gross income, but not companies? Either I should be taxed on Profit too, Or a company should be taxed on Gross income. Cause its just as easy to invent all sorts of crap to never have a profit. Go Google Hollywood accounting.

            I mean with my income, I have to purchase a ton of expenses that eat at the total too. I have rent, food, medical care, etc. Just like Boeing has to pay for expenses to assemble their big shiny planes! And you can't get away with the "Well, they hire people and then they pay taxes" argument, cause I give income to the Landlord. I give income to Blue Cross, I provide income to farmers, sales clerks, hell, even the lady that cuts my hair. The economy is a network of economic networks..

            but I guess its easier to insult their (the GP's) intelligence in the matter. Hooray, you took basic Economics in High School

      • by russotto (537200)

        True...but just to be clear (and I speak as someone who owns a business in Washington), the specific tax in question is the state "Business and Occupation" tax, which (for manufacturing activities, at least) is a tax levied at .484% of the gross revenue of the business - not the net income, not the net profit, but the gross total of checks that came in the door .

        My state personal income tax is based on the gross as well. So is the federal personal income tax, with some exceptions. If they only taxed me o

      • by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:41PM (#31148974) Journal

        Individuals get taxed on their gross income so why is it so absurd that the poor starving corporations be taxed the same way? As things are now, individuals don't get to deduct anywhere near what corporations do.

      • by oatworm (969674)
        To put that into perspective, if you look at their SEC filings [microsoft.com], that would mean 0.484% of, worst case, a little over $19 billion, or $92 million for the 2nd quarter of 2010. Of their net income (i.e. profit), that would account for 1.4% of their total profit; needless to say, MS can probably absorb that. Of course, that $19 billion was their gross revenue, of which a good chunk of that probably isn't taxed per Washington's corporate tax law (IANAA) and certainly doesn't apply as licensing revenue (gross r
  • "To get"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:12PM (#31148638)
    I see the authors are using the phrase "Microsoft to get" to mean the less-common "Microsoft may get if a bill proposed by one Representative is passed by both Congressional bodies in its current form which is not going to happen."

    Scintillating!
  • Its welfare (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ldconfig (1339877)
    I can not goto a store like best buy and buy a PC without paying the microsoft tax yet microsoft gets out of paying their fair share. (Before anyone wants to accuse me of running a stolen copy of windows we are a 110% Linux household)
    • System76 and Dell offer Linux pre-loaded PCs. But I agree, MS does everything it can to milk cash out of people through whatever means are at its disposal and they ought to have their arse handed to them.

  • by earlymon (1116185) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:18PM (#31148706) Homepage Journal

    I can't help but notice that this article comes on the heels of the OK of corporate personhood status.

    I can't find the words that compares the figures from TFA to those on everyone's recently received W2s.

  • I think I'll contact my congressman so that perhaps he could sponsor a bill that would give me a $20,000 tax break.... Just in case I find a job this year.

    America is fucked in the head.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sanosuke001 (640243)
      I would love to see the fed allow everyone to write off any necessities (living expenses, school expenses, necessary food purchases) as tax free payments instead of having to pay taxes BEFORE necessary payments are made. Then, I wouldn't mind so much about things like this happening.

      Or, get rid of the income tax, increase sales tax, and add a fed sales tax. Necessities wouldn't be taxes, as they are now, so for those of you who say a sales tax-only system would hurt the poor too much, tell them to stop b
  • The representatives are afraid Microsoft will leave Washington if it doesn't have its way. They probably assume the tax revenue from MS employees is better than nothing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kostya (1146)

      Except that this is WA--where there is no state income tax. So WA state isn't getting all that much from MS employees (who probably buy quite a bit online and dodge the local sales tax too).

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:23PM (#31148780)

    I mean, if the summary is right that this dude's district is chock full of Microsoft people, isn't it basically his job to propose legislation that his constituents favor?

    Now, if the rest of the state's representatives actually go along with it, you have a different story.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Right... and if his district was chock full of pedophiles, then it would basically be his job to propose legislation lowering the age of consent to 2, right? Yes, if the system works, the rest of Washington state's congresscritters SHOULD tell him to see figure 1 [dourish.com]
  • Where are your ideals now, America?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by exi1ed0ne (647852) *

      What? Sorry, I was too busy watching Jack Bauer kick the crap out of terrorists on TV.

      Ooooh, IDeals. Is Apple going into the coupon business?

  • by 5KVGhost (208137) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:31PM (#31148866)

    I have no problem with this. The state of Washington is not $2.8 billion in debt because corporate taxes are too low or because Microsoft makes too much money. The state government is in debt because they insist on spending vastly more money than they actually have available. The state could take every single penny MS owns and they'd soon find themselves back in the exactly the same situation, looking for someone else's money to take.

    Creating a hostile environment for employers only encourages them to leave your state and set up shop somewhere else. Like another state where they're not punished for being successful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by earlymon (1116185)

      I have no problem with this.

      OK - so Microsoft employs how many people in Washington?

      Around 40,000, as I recall. Let's give about 30,000 as the number of children and another 20,000 for spouses and significant others. Let's devote around 1300 teachers for those kids, and about 400 administrators for those teachers (up to the state level, and I think I'm being conservative). Let's factor in the infrastructure businesses that exist in Washington whose entire existence is centered around Microsoft.

      So, between the load on the roads, the

      • by sparky555 (986576) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:19PM (#31149482)

        I have no problem with this.

        OK - so Microsoft employs how many people in Washington?

        Around 40,000, as I recall. Let's give about 30,000 as the number of children and another 20,000 for spouses and significant others. Let's devote around 1300 teachers for those kids, and about 400 administrators for those teachers (up to the state level, and I think I'm being conservative). Let's factor in the infrastructure businesses that exist in Washington whose entire existence is centered around Microsoft.

        So, between the load on the roads, the educational system, firefighters, police and other essential services, you're entirely satisfied that Microsoft is giving at least as much as it takes from your state? And that the rank and file employee state taxes fairly offset those for the MS cream of the crop?

        You live in Washington, have considered these factors, and still believe that Microsoft is a good corporate neighbor?

        Okay, so I'm a Microsoft employee, so factor that in however you want. I'm also a citizen of Washington, and it seems like your argument ignores that. I pay 9.5% sales tax on everything I buy, I sort of pay property taxes (I pay apartment rent, but the landlord takes some of my money and pays property taxes). I pay gas taxes, I pay to register my car, I pay stupidly high liquor taxes. There's no state income tax, so I don't pay that, but a lot of Microsoft employees have pretty expensive houses, so they pay a ton in property tax. Sure, there are more/bigger roads in Redmond than would exist without Microsoft, but as a citizen those are the roads that are most useful to me - isn't that why I pay my gas & vehicle registration taxes?

        I don't know anything about this specific tax, and don't want to comment on it. But I'm always confused when I see the argument that Microsoft takes from the state, and that we'd be better off without it. I spend a lot of money in the local economy, pay quite a bit in taxes, etc. If Microsoft left, it'd be a disaster for the economy on the Eastside, and probably all of Seattle.

        Your argument about the roads, schools, firefights, police, etc. just doesn't make much sense to me. Microsoft employees are citizens like any other (but since they tend to be pretty well paid, they're going to pay more in taxes), so of course they're going to use state/local resources. I am going to live somewhere, and I'll need roads, firefighters, police, etc, so some state and local government is going to tax me and be responsible for providing those services - because Microsoft employs me here, it's Washington/King Co./Redmond. I don't use the schools, I don't cause a burden to the police, I don't get any assistance from the state. I use the roads, parks and libraries. Like a lot of Microsoft employees, I'm young and have no kids, so I'm not using the schools, but I'm paying for them. I have to think that I pay way more into the system than I get out of it. That's fine, but if Microsoft left I'd probably leave too (I'm not a native Washingtonian, and can't imagine I would have moved to Seattle if not for this job), and from the perspective of state finances I think that'd be a loss for Washington.

        Maybe we should kick all employers out of the state. If no one lived here, we wouldn't need any schools/police/firefighters/roads at all. The state budget problems would be solved!

    • by mpapet (761907) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:38PM (#31149744) Homepage

      Parent marries two flawed ideas that don't belong together and then somehow calls this a justification.

      1. Local Government is somehow a spendthrift. This is a Sarah Palin explanation. The people with little comprehension of what their government does whip this explanation out to beat down their enemies. My civics class from grammar school taught me that local government provides public services and infrastructure. You know those awful spendthrifts just wasting our taxes on roads, and sewage systems... Let's do away with law enforcement. Courts too. People that use this kind of thinking have one goal, a return of the truck system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck_system [wikipedia.org]

      2. Parent makes the leap that a high-tax environment is somehow hostile to business. The goal of the comment is to make the Corporate Welfare State as big as possible. Shift the entire tax burden away from the corporation to the employee. (not the Owner of the business, the employee)

      It is much more expensive, and almost impossible for Microsoft to leave. This is true with any giant-sized super-mega corp. facility. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. I'm saying it happens nowhere near the level of fear the remark generates. The goal behind the fear mongering is to complete the Corporate Welfare State.

  • Here's something that must be killed off in every democracy - embedded clauses that have nothing to do with the main bill or its stated purpose.
    I've heard that the Credit Card bill that Obama passed contained a clause permitting carrying loaded weapons in national parks.
    How does shit like this get justified? Can you even do this with a straight face without being a psychopath?

    Several years ago, an attempt was made in the EU to pass legislation that would curb or prohibit the sale of natural health products.

  • Now that the US SCOTUS has removed all barriers to corporate campaign contributions, kiss what few rights you had left goodbye. Look for huge amounts of funds funneled into campaigns in the next few months.

    There is a move to limit contributions by:
    1) Gov't contractors including military contractors,
    2) TARP recipients,
    3) Corporations with foreign money invested in them,
    TARP and other gov't bailout recipients.

    But we need to hurry.

  • Power corrupts.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Big money translates to big power.

    Billions and billions of dollars of influence will make any politician paint on a smile, disrobe, bend over, keep smiling, and say "Is there anything else I can do for y'all?"
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday February 15, 2010 @10:02PM (#31151328) Journal
    Seriously, in the last 5 years State spending has grown by 40%. The State's shortfall isn't from giving Microsoft or other mega-employers (those who employ 100,000+ in the State) tax breaks; it's from growing spending at an insane rate way beyond inflation plus population growth PLUS state GDP growth.

    .
    But class warfare is always a good way for the politicians to shirk their responsibility for the financial meltdown of WA State... Blame the MegaCorps, not the budget-busting increases we've seen over the last 5 years...

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