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Florida Ponders Communication Tax on LANs

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the apropos-per-diem dept.

Communications 406

victor_the_cleaner writes "Here in Florida, a little known tax provision may lead to LANs being taxed. According to the article, 'The provision was intended to make sure companies operating their own land line communication systems, which two decades ago was limited to large utilities and railroads, were paying the same taxes paid by those who rely on commercial phone carriers. About 10 companies (in Florida) pay more than $1.2 million annually based on that definition. However, the statute is so broadly worded that it could be interpreted to describe a local area network.' Internal auditors at the city of Tampa noticed a couple of years ago that the substitute communications service provision was still there and asked state officials why it wasn't being enforced. And now people like Sharon Fox, the city of Tampa's tax revenue coordinator are pushing for enforcement."

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ZING (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876198)

Suck a Boot, Asscork!

What's that, mother? (-1, Flamebait)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876259)

I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE.

What?

I have a right to be here! It's school business!

Mother! That SAILOR SUIT DOESN'T FIT ME ANYMORE.

Re:What's that, mother? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876378)

Some cock-smoker is modding down -1 posts. Happened to one of my troll accounts today too.

Re:What's that, mother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876400)

P'raps 'twas one of the Little People? Or Wesley Willis.

First "OH MY GOD THIS SUCKS FOR NAT" Post (0, Redundant)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876202)

You heard it first: Does that mean I have to pay a tax on all my computers on my NAT network????

Re:First "OH MY GOD THIS SUCKS FOR NAT" Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876245)

Well, since NAT is technically illegal under the DMCA anyway, why not tax it?

Home enforcement? (5, Insightful)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876204)

I would guess that the people pushing for enforcement don't really understand what they're asking for and that it will cost their offices as well.

They don't pay taxes. (3, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876276)

The gov doesn't pay taxes. They don't have to pay to register their cars, they don't have to pay gas tax and they don't have to pay a host of other fees.

Re:Home enforcement? (3, Funny)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876294)

What are they going to do? Get a LAN inspector?

LAN Inspector: "Hello, mam. I need to search your house for networking cables in order to tax you properly."

How many people are going to open their door to a guy that that? It seems more like a wallet inspector position to me.

Re:Home enforcement? (5, Insightful)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876307)

It's not that they don't understand (which they don't); it's that they don't care. All they see is yet another unharnessed source of income. I bet you that the law is so vaguely worded that it could describe the connection between you and your provider (DSL), you and your cable company for TV or cable modem, cordless multi-unit telephones (like the pair Sam's sold last X-mas that could have more handsets added to the setup), and even the datalink between your PDA and your desktop. Hell I bet it could even be applied to your USB hub and devices. I bet this law is that vague. They really don't care what the impact is. They just want more money.

Re:Home enforcement? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876399)

And the good new is, that laws can be challenged on the point that they are too cague. The bad news is that few people rarely do - or often enough can't afford to - take it to court when the law may be shot down.

Re:Home enforcement? (0, Redundant)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876310)

Oh, taxes on LANs... for a second I thought they were into something stupid.

Diego

Re:Home enforcement? (2, Informative)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876317)

Then again...

This [slashdot.org] is from last year when Florida was pushing to pass new legislation to tax LANs.

I think someone (read the revenue service) may have an agenda...

Posted Before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876361)

This has been discussed on slashdot [slashdot.org] before and was also the topic of a slashback [slashdot.org]

Re:Home enforcement? (5, Interesting)

mar1boro (189737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876412)

My paranoia is asserting iteself, again.
I'm pretty sure they know exactly what they
are doing. Identifying any specific device
for taxation (ie. automobiles) makes it much
easier to keep track of.

Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876212)

Isn't that where most of the spammers reside at?

justification (4, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876213)

I see one and only one way a tax on LANs becomes fair. That is if the tax money goes to improving the local and regional communications infrastructure

Re:justification (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876303)

Being from the Chicago area, I can honestly say tax money never goes to the most intuitive place. Our toll booths collect $.50-$.75 a hit, and we have some of the worst toll roads in the country. It all goes in Daileys pocket, or back out to his shitty contractor/family friends, where it winds up back in his pocket.

Re:justification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876306)

why should it?

seeing as how i built that infrastructure in my home/office, why should i pay for the infrastructure that a private company owns?

Re:justification (1, Insightful)

bwy (726112) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876373)

Well, what if we spend the tax money on a $20,000 toilet seat for the shitter of some government employees involved with the improvement of the local and regional communications infrastructure?

Or maybe I could interest you in a $1000 hammer? I've yet to see a good ROI for my tax money. Based on that, I'd say the less taxes/less forced goverment services, the better.

Re:justification (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876380)

You mean like the Universal Service Fee, which seems to be prone to abuse [house.gov] .

i have a.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876215)

i have 2 torch lights and a dark room i communicate with someone by turning the lights on and off will that be taxed?

Won't work... (5, Insightful)

Grant29 (701796) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876220)

Nowadays home LANs are pretty common. Try to enforce it on individuals and all hell will break loose. I expect them to go after the large companies first, and when they strike it down, the home users won't worry about having to fight it.

--
Retail Retreat [retailretreat.com]

Re:Won't work... (5, Insightful)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876232)

As silly and far fetched as this sounds.... I'm sure we remember when everyone said the RIAA will never really start going after individuals.

Re:Won't work... (1)

Grant29 (701796) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876270)

Right, but didn't a Canadian ISP already strike down attempts to determine the users based on thier IP addresses? Hopefully that will filter into the US.

--
Retail Retreat [retailretreat.com]

Re:Won't work... (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876382)

Well it was actually a court that struck this done because the cdn version of the RIAA didn't provide undisputable proof that copyright violations were happening, and failed to identify the individual, only the owner of the internet connection.

Re:Won't work... (2, Insightful)

PretzelBat (770907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876301)

Try to enforce it on individuals and all hell will break loose.

You mean like if a big company tried to used copyright laws to extort money from their customers?

You mean like if the government passed a law that makes it possible for them to examine anyone's library records?

You're right. Here in America, we are STRONG. We stand up for our rights. You can't push the average American cizizen around and get away with it. ...

Oh, wait.

SITE GOIN DOWN FASTR THN RICHARD SIMMONS ON A POLE (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876222)

Overlooked Tax Provision Gets Attention
By DAVID WASSON dwasson@tampatrib.com
Published: Apr 15, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - At the urging of Tampa and a handful of other cities, a nearly forgotten provision in Florida's tax code is being dusted off by the state Revenue Department and could lead to the nation's first communications tax on multiuser computer networks.
Business lobbyists and others are scrambling to block the move, which some predict could trigger one of the largest tax increases in Florida history unless lawmakers eliminate the provision or halt its enforcement before adjourning April 30.

``This is a true example of the law of unintended consequences,'' said state Rep. John Stargel, R-Lakeland, who has introduced a bill that would abolish the 1985 provision but has been unable to get it past its first committee stop. ``This is a poster child for bad tax policy.''

The provision was intended to make sure companies operating their own land line communication systems, which two decades ago was limited to large utilities and railroads, were paying the same taxes paid by those who rely on commercial phone carriers. About 10 companies pay more than $1.2 million annually based on that definition.

However, the statute is so broadly worded that it could be interpreted to describe a local area network, which in computer lingo is known as a LAN. Thousands of Florida companies as well as a growing number of private homes have LAN computer systems.

Finding A Solution

Senate leaders oppose such a broad application of the provision but are leery of hastily eliminating it, in part because it would abolish the $1.2 million in tax revenue that has been paid under what is known as the Substitute Communications Services Tax.

The upper legislative chamber is expected to propose a temporary suspension of its enforcement and then look for ways to limit the provision's application without undermining its original intent.

``Back in 1985, there might have been a few engineers at Bell Laboratories who might have understood what a local area network was but not many others,'' said state Revenue Department spokesman Dave Bruns. ``That was essentially pre-Internet.''

Complicating matters is that lawmakers kept the provision intact when they revamped communication services taxes in 2000 as part of an effort to simplify and modernize the tax code. That's what sparked the current problem.

Cities Seek Enforcement

Internal auditors at the city of Tampa noticed a couple of years ago that the substitute communications service provision was still there and asked state officials why it wasn't being enforced.

Cities and counties get a hefty cut of the $2.1 billion in communications taxes collected by phone companies each year. A portion of the money also is earmarked for school construction.

No one knows exactly how much more would be collected by enforcing the broader definition of the tax. The rate varies statewide, ranging from 9.17 percent to 18.07 percent depending on local option assessments.

Stargel predicts it would be hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while some business lobbyists say it would easily exceed $1 billion.

Bruns said that while no one at the state agency believes the provision was ever intended to apply to computer networks, the agency's job is to enforce the policies created by the Legislature. He said the agency asked the Legislature to re-examine the provision last year but lawmakers adjourned without touching it.

With cities continuing to push for collection, the Revenue Department drafted a proposed enforcement rule but delayed implementation until after this year's legislative session to give lawmakers a second chance to amend or abolish the provision. With barely two weeks remaining, bills in the House and Senate are essentially stalled in committees.

``We are awaiting guidance from the Legislature,'' Bruns said.

Among those pushing the issue is Sharon Fox, the city of Tampa's tax revenue coordinator.

Although she never imagined the provision would be interpreted to require taxing even the most simplistic computer networks, she makes no apologies for insisting that state policy be enforced. Fox had helped draft proposals for the 2000 revamp and is keenly aware that advancing communication technology is enabling companies to rely on computer networks for services that used to be available only from phone companies.

``The whole purpose was to level the playing field so that everyone would pay the tax and that would let us lower the rate,'' Fox said. ``Complicating things a little bit is technology has changed so much.''

Analysts worry that eliminating the provision would leave the state unable to respond to shifting technology. The Internet, with advances in voice-over protocols, is expected to weaken consumer reliance on standard phone services.

Because Florida relies heavily on communication services taxes to finance government operations, Senate staffers worry that eliminating the provision would make it more difficult for the state to respond to the coming shifts in consumer behavior.

Opponents counter that those concerns are based on too many what-ifs.

``Those kinds of things are four or five steps out,'' Stargel said. ``If that happens, there's time to address that.

``My concern is immediate. If we don't act in the next 2 1/2 weeks, this tax will happen.''

David Wasson can be reached at (850) 222-8382.

program named 'Why you should leave Florida' (5, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876227)

The Florida Tax Revenue office is naming this new effort 'Why your business should leave Florida' and including helpful tips on moving your business to another state that doesn't do such stupid things as tax your internal computer network.

Re:program named 'Why you should leave Florida' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876320)

wow! Insigtful flamebait :)

Re:program named 'Why you should leave Florida' (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876369)

I haven't seen that pamphlet, though I do have an original mint copy of Come to Florida -- It's Heaven's Waiting Room.

Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876231)

Isn't this a dupe? I am sure I read about this before on Slashdot. Can anyone find the post?

Re:Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876257)

What, are your fingers broken?

Re:Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876260)

Right here. [goat.cx]

Re:Dupe? (3, Informative)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876265)

Isn't this a dupe? I am sure I read about this before on Slashdot. Can anyone find the post?


link [slashdot.org]

Not again... (1)

PretzelBat (770907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876233)

Three cheers for continuing government incompetence.

Why do the idiots we elect insist on screwing up everything they touch?

(On a related note, why do we elect them if they are such idiots?)

Florida, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876234)

Degenerate and backward, persisting...

Jobs will migrate... (5, Insightful)

bunyip (17018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876236)

Well, first, I was giong to suggest, "Dude, April Fool's Day was, like, 2 weeks ago", but then I read the article.

Clearly, companies that rely on LANs will go to places that don't tax LANs. Like neighboring states, or non-neighboring states, or non-neighboring countries. I'm sure the tax assessor is not thinking of the medium to long-term consequences.

Do they tax LANs in India? Russia? Other countries?

Alan.

Re:Jobs will migrate... (5, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876334)

Do they tax LANs in India? Russia? Other countries?

Of course not. In Russia, the LANs tax you!

BREAKING NEW (5, Funny)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876238)

Florida tax auditor found strangled with cat 5 . Police baffled. "Why anyone would use a network cable is beyond us stated........

In other news: (1)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876239)

Analysts predict Florida tax revenues will drop drastically as businesses leave the state in droves.

re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876240)

As always, yet another example of politicians run amok. They'll tax anything if they are allowed to.

I don't want to sound critical of the fine people (1, Insightful)

loraksus (171574) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876241)

in Florida, but is it just me or is every person who calls from that state dumb as a brick?
Any other folks in tech support notice the same thing?
Not quite off topic, it just seems that areas which have a zip code that begin with the digit "3" have, shall we say, limited computer experience.

Re:I don't want to sound critical of the fine peop (1)

Unregistered (584479) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876298)

hey! my zip code begins wiith a 3. (Atlanta)

Re:I don't want to sound critical of the fine peop (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876366)

his point exactly. :)

Re:I don't want to sound critical of the fine peop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876309)

Yep, dumb as bricks.
Can't even fill out ballots to vote right.

Its a troll, but its true (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876319)

I work for a cell company that deals with those idiots. At least 1 out of 10 can add, you cant say that for Georgia!

maybe trollish but... (4, Insightful)

Froze (398171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876247)

I really hate that the system thinks it is entitled to a tax when it is not providing the infrastructure. Sure, if the government is subsidizing a system, but when a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves, what right does someone else have to came and lay claim to your efforts?

That a tax of this nature was initiated in Florida is just one more reason why I will never willingly choose to live there.

3 words (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876331)

Fark Florida Tag

Re:maybe trollish but... (2)

PretzelBat (770907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876364)

a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves

If you buy a piece of property worth 50,000 and the property taxes are 3%, you pay 1,500/year.

Now, lets say you cut down some of the trees on your property, get them made into lumber, and build yourself a house. Maybe the property is worth 150,000 now, and your taxes went up th 4,500 a year.

Your effort and expenditure raised your taxes. Sometimes you just get screwed.

Re:maybe trollish but... (4, Insightful)

Migrant Programmer (19727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876410)

Your new need for fire protection, police protection, fresh water, road access, sewage service, educational facilities, and hospital facilities raised your taxes. Not your effort and expenditure.

Did I miss anything?

Re:maybe trollish but... (4, Insightful)

MacDork (560499) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876389)

but when a company or individual acquires or builds something for themselves, what right does someone else have to came[sic] and lay claim to your efforts?

Happens all the time. Property taxes.

At least they're not taxing charities... (1)

holizz (737615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876248)

Like the British Inland Revenue.

Who's this really going to affect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876252)

Nothing against the masses of retired folks in Florida, but I'd be more concerned had this bill popped up in, say, California.

OLD FOLKS JUST DON'T HAVE NETWORKS! :)

Re:Who's this really going to affect? (1)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876318)

Now I can't belive any in congress is that stupid. I could just see Silicon Valley picking up en masse and moving across the border to Nevada.

Re:Who's this really going to affect? (1)

alphakappa (687189) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876377)

umm...cough*florida*cough.. kind of across the country from silicon valley and nevada

Oh No! (1)

PeaceTank (758859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876253)

What will all the poor old people do?

Last Resort (1)

consolidatedbord (689996) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876258)

If this thing covers only ethernet networks, I'm rolling back to coax!

Re:Last Resort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876297)

Thin-net is ethernet. Thick-net is too.

How about I just make it a WAN. (1)

demonic-halo (652519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876266)

I'm sure people can just make a large adhoc network with somebody outside the building and it's a WAN.

=)

Re:How about I just make it a WAN. (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876279)

WANs are already covered. It's just that the wording is so broad that it also could cover LANs. Read the summary, mmmm-kay?

Re:How about I just make it a WAN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876358)

Let's just kill this right now. "mmkay" is such a stupid redneck dumbass phrase it should be banned on pain of death. Send that kind of useless wording back to Alabama, where that's all they can say with their limited IQs.

maybe it's just me... (1)

dark404 (714846) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876269)

But wouldn't this come under my right to privacy? After all, my Cat5, my choice!

How long do you think this'll last? (4, Insightful)

DarkkOne (741046) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876273)

I mean, what next, a tax for using a remote control to change channels as opposed to standing up and doing it physically? The law may be in place, but they can't honestly expect it to stay so... If it's to tax businesses who put a network in place on their own instead of using telcos, they could just define it as "between multiple sites" or something like that... anything that leaves the building, basically. *shrugs* I certainly hope common sense wins the day. If it applies to network data transfer, is it wired or wireless only? Floppys and CDs are data transfer to... how specific is the method? Bah.

The way of the future! (1)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876274)

Let me be the first to say I applaud Florida's forward looking policies, which are sure to stamp out the dens of evil file sharers and virus writers that hide on their so-called "Local Area Networks". Tax them into oblivion, I say! And while we're at it, I would like to suggest a ham radio tax, as I know for a fact that various people who *could* talk on land lines use ham radio to circumvent the phone tax.

Peas, whirled peas! That's what I want.

"Land lines" (1)

upside (574799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876280)

The article talks about land lines, so WLANs would be exempt? There is no link to the actual legislation so I can't read for myself.

What a POS anyway. Next thing you know they slap a road tax on browsers because you traverse the information superhighway with them.

Is it only wired networks? (1)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876281)

Read the article, but didn't see if the statute was broad because it focused on "wiring" or the "networking" side.

Would going wireless be a work-around if they kept the laws intact?

already being taxed for this? (4, Insightful)

trmj (579410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876282)

So they are taxing people who use network based communication systems not run my outside companies.

On the surface, it seems like it's taxation without representation: the networks are privately built and maintained. And what do those networks run over for companies that have multiple offices? Outside phone lines, which the Gov't helped build. Ok, it can be argued that there is representation here.

But think about it: if those lines are already running to the buildings and being used, then the taxes are already being paid on them, in the form of basic service fees.

It seems like this law was made to make companies that run their own lines to pay taxes on them, which is taxation without representation. Now it's being applied to people who are already paying the service fees and taxes on them, and are now going to be taxed again for using said lines.

This is going to do one of two things:
1) Make a lot of criminals
2) Be challenged and not stand up in court.

Feel free to tell me I'm an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about, just back it up with reasons and facts, please.

Unreal (1)

alexburke (119254) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876284)

They're about 15 days late mentioning this...

I guess it's time to ... (2, Funny)

monstermagnet (101235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876292)

hide my "cans on string" communications network before the taxman cometh!

WLAN Baby... (1)

bagboy (630125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876293)

Wireless... Free Unlicensed spectrum. No Tax invloved....

The Entire Story (1)

signalgod (233854) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876299)

TALLAHASSEE - At the urging of Tampa and a handful of other cities, a nearly forgotten provision in Florida's tax code is being dusted off by the state Revenue Department and could lead to the nation's first communications tax on multiuser computer networks.
Business lobbyists and others are scrambling to block the move, which some predict could trigger one of the largest tax increases in Florida history unless lawmakers eliminate the provision or halt its enforcement before adjourning April 30.
``This is a true example of the law of unintended consequences,'' said state Rep. John Stargel, R-Lakeland, who has introduced a bill that would abolish the 1985 provision but has been unable to get it past its first committee stop. ``This is a poster child for bad tax policy.''
The provision was intended to make sure companies operating their own land line communication systems, which two decades ago was limited to large utilities and railroads, were paying the same taxes paid by those who rely on commercial phone carriers. About 10 companies pay more than $1.2 million annually based on that definition.
However, the statute is so broadly worded that it could be interpreted to describe a local area network, which in computer lingo is known as a LAN. Thousands of Florida companies as well as a growing number of private homes have LAN computer systems.
Finding A Solution
Senate leaders oppose such a broad application of the provision but are leery of hastily eliminating it, in part because it would abolish the $1.2 million in tax revenue that has been paid under what is known as the Substitute Communications Services Tax.
The upper legislative chamber is expected to propose a temporary suspension of its enforcement and then look for ways to limit the provision's application without undermining its original intent.
``Back in 1985, there might have been a few engineers at Bell Laboratories who might have understood what a local area network was but not many others,'' said state Revenue Department spokesman Dave Bruns. ``That was essentially pre-Internet.''
Complicating matters is that lawmakers kept the provision intact when they revamped communication services taxes in 2000 as part of an effort to simplify and modernize the tax code. That's what sparked the current problem.
Cities Seek Enforcement
Internal auditors at the city of Tampa noticed a couple of years ago that the substitute communications service provision was still there and asked state officials why it wasn't being enforced.
Cities and counties get a hefty cut of the $2.1 billion in communications taxes collected by phone companies each year. A portion of the money also is earmarked for school construction.
No one knows exactly how much more would be collected by enforcing the broader definition of the tax. The rate varies statewide, ranging from 9.17 percent to 18.07 percent depending on local option assessments.
Stargel predicts it would be hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while some business lobbyists say it would easily exceed $1 billion.
Bruns said that while no one at the state agency believes the provision was ever intended to apply to computer networks, the agency's job is to enforce the policies created by the Legislature. He said the agency asked the Legislature to re-examine the provision last year but lawmakers adjourned without touching it.
With cities continuing to push for collection, the Revenue Department drafted a proposed enforcement rule but delayed implementation until after this year's legislative session to give lawmakers a second chance to amend or abolish the provision. With barely two weeks remaining, bills in the House and Senate are essentially stalled in committees.
``We are awaiting guidance from the Legislature,'' Bruns said.
Among those pushing the issue is Sharon Fox, the city of Tampa's tax revenue coordinator.
Although she never imagined the provision would be interpreted to require taxing even the most simplistic computer networks, she makes no apologies for insisting that state policy be enforced. Fox had helped draft proposals for the 2000 revamp and is keenly aware that advancing communication technology is enabling companies to rely on computer networks for services that used to be available only from phone companies.
``The whole purpose was to level the playing field so that everyone would pay the tax and that would let us lower the rate,'' Fox said. ``Complicating things a little bit is technology has changed so much.''
Analysts worry that eliminating the provision would leave the state unable to respond to shifting technology. The Internet, with advances in voice-over protocols, is expected to weaken consumer reliance on standard phone services.
Because Florida relies heavily on communication services taxes to finance government operations, Senate staffers worry that eliminating the provision would make it more difficult for the state to respond to the coming shifts in consumer behavior.
Opponents counter that those concerns are based on too many what-ifs.
``Those kinds of things are four or five steps out,'' Stargel said. ``If that happens, there's time to address that.
``My concern is immediate. If we don't act in the next 2 1/2 weeks, this tax wll happen.'

Re:The Entire Story (1)

trmj (579410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876343)

What kind of person does this? Now we will all have to RTFA if we want to read comments. Jackass.

</sarcasm>

CEO: What Happen? (5, Funny)

bl4nk (607569) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876302)

Admin: Somebody set up us the tax provision.
Admin: We get signal.
CEO: What!
Admin: Main screen turn on.
CEO: It's You!!
Florida: How are you gentlemen!!
Florida: All your LAN are belong to us.
Florida: You are on the way to taxation.
CEO: What you say!!

Re:CEO: What Happen? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876342)

Admin: Somebody set up us the redundant drivel.
Admin: We get signal.
CEO: What!
Admin: Main screen turn on.
CEO: It's You!!
Florida: How are you gentlemen!!
Florida: All your Teabag are belong to us.
Florida: You are on the way to bad karma.
CEO: What you say!!

Something in the water in Tampa? (1)

SailfishMac (732653) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876305)

Wasn't this the same city that employed face recognition cameras on all the city streets, just to pull them after finding out it doesn't work?

Isn't this the state that makes having AppleCare illegal?

Of course we all know about the election mess...

There has to be something in the swamp water most Floridians drink.

G5's spare cycles needed to cure disease!! http://teammacosx.homeunix.com/

They can have my tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876311)

When they pry it out of my fat, greasy, cheeto encrusted nerd hands.

In other news... (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876313)

Deaf people are now facing huge fines for their local communications networks. Speaking through an interpreter, Sally Johnson stated "It's unfair to consider a group of individuals exchanging communications through an established protocol a means of bypassing local phone service." Florida's Blind & Deaf Student Members group voiced their concerns about the over-reaching implications of this law. A representative of the group claimed that "Florida legislators are using the long arm of the law to reach into our pants and take our money."

Re:In other news... (1)

upside (574799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876357)

Sandra Fox suggests slapping a road tax on modems since they are used to traverse the Internet information superhighway.

Very old stuff (2, Informative)

gnuyarlathotep (765825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876316)

They have been talking about doing this in Florida for over six years. As soon as the idea hits someone with a braincell (Granted that often takes a while.) it dies each time.

April 1 again? (0, Redundant)

Theovon (109752) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876332)

I could swear I saw a story like this on April first.

WANs perhaps (2, Insightful)

complexmath (449417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876336)

Haven't found the legal code to peruse, but I think the writer of the article has made a mistake. It sounds to me like the tax was for dedicated lines between offices rather than wires built into a single establishment. Were this not the case, PBX phone systems which are used by nearly all businesses and schools in the US would be taxed as well, and these systems have been in place forever. If my guess is correct, then individuals and most busineses would be exempt, as it's not common even today for many businesses to have dedicated WAN lines, and these are the same businesses that should already be paying this tax.

won't happen (2, Insightful)

randyest (589159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876339)

Even Florida isn't dumb enough to tax LANs. According to the article:

The upper legislative chamber is expected to propose a temporary suspension of its enforcement and then look for ways to limit the provision's application without undermining its original intent.

...

No one knows exactly how much more would be collected by enforcing the broader definition of the tax. The rate varies statewide, ranging from 9.17 percent to 18.07 percent depending on local option assessments.

Stargel predicts it would be hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while some business lobbyists say it would easily exceed $1 billion.

This is an interesting case of reasonable tax laws made dumb and potentially dangerous by advances in technology, but otherwise pretty much a non-issue that will go away quietly within a few weeks.

Hmmm... (1, Funny)

Bob Vila's Hammer (614758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876341)

For a second there I thought this was Fark [fark.com] . I was expecting to see a Florida tag.

What do you expect (1)

graveyardduckx (735761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876346)

from a state that taxes you for using WELL WATER and city water?

Tax a LAN? (3, Interesting)

eeyoredragon (674402) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876350)

How would you tax a home owner's LAN anyways? Set fee for owning one?? I mean, I own a wireless router, but I only have one computer hooked up. Don't tax my "LAN" please.. This is entirely stupid :-/

You know why the quality of government sucks here? (1)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876352)

More money in a wasteful, incompetent bureacracy doesn't fix anything. My university pays a business professor I had when I took a business elective almost $86,000/year to teach CIS and she made claims like Microsoft invented OO languages and that OO means using GUI elements. Fortunately I am a computer science major and none of my profs are even remotely that bad. However she is living proof of the argument that more money = better education system.

So here's a novel idea. Cut back the government budget, prosecute people for being wasteful and abusive, fire incompetent employees and give bonuses to those who come up with creative solutions to fixing public problems.

Re:You know why the quality of government sucks he (1)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876407)

Erm...uh...how does her $86k salary show that more money = better education? Doesn't it show the exact opposite, that high salary does not equal informed teacher?

If I had a teacher that said object orientation meant using a GUI I would have to stand up and bitch slap them. I couldn't help myself.

How will this affect LAN Parties? (1)

huchida (764848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876356)

Just a suggestion, but I would propose a fee of $.25 a frag.

Really, isn't it time to do away with phone taxes? (2, Insightful)

cryptochrome (303529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876363)

I know they're a big cash cow [wired.com] for the state and all (why do you think they're so high) but now they're getting in the way of communication. Screw the state governments, they'll have to deal with the loss of revenue some other less sneaky way. Even the much-ballyhooed rural service fee is no longer justified. There are cheaper ways of communicating from the middle of nowhere than stringing copper out there. They pay less to live out in the middle of nowhere, why should the rest of us pay more to support their choice?

Viva la VOIP!

Longest dupe I can remember (4, Informative)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876376)

From August 25th, 2003 [slashdot.org]

Re:Longest dupe I can remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876406)

Thx. pls die now.

-CowboyNeal

Support the libertarians . (3, Informative)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876379)

While most of us are already libertarians, it is an unkown to the mainstream. On this tax day, remember the libertarian party. They were instrumental in repealing a massive tax hike here in Oregon.

Missing the point (1)

dnamaners (770001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876381)

I's jsut another tax. They would tax sex and air if they could. What do you do when you get over bugget? Probably stop eating at McD's or cut some other expense. I should think florda should do the same.

land line ... (1)

MySt1k (713767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876383)

can land line be applied to wireless lan too ? if yes, (wireless lan / walkie talkie / ham radio) users would have to pay for this ... it could easily cost more money to the state to enforce this than what it would earn them ...

Flaw in their logic (4, Insightful)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876386)

How would the tax apply to a company that has internal networking? What about a PBX telephone system, would taxes be due? If not, then LANs must also be logically excluded.

More importantly, most LANs integrate with some form of WAN, of which a relationship must exist with a telecommunications company that pays these state taxes already.

From what I read in the article, the tax was only created to level the taxation benefit that large companies would reap from having a private phone system. Even in 1985, the year this tax was implemented, many companies had some form of internal networking to cover such devices as computers, computerized cash registers, etc. and they were not taxed.

Doesn't make sense.

Best Quote (1)

edraven (45764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876391)

``Back in 1985, there might have been a few engineers at Bell Laboratories who might have understood what a local area network was but not many others,'' said state Revenue Department spokesman Dave Bruns. ``That was essentially pre-Internet.''

Oh, ghod, I'm dyin'.

Chuck

Miscommunication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8876404)

Some said tax Latinos but the answering maching message got garbled.

Is There No End to Government Greed? (2, Interesting)

joel_archer (124897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876411)

People complain about corporate greed, of which there are numerous and recent examples. But on April 15th, I am once again reminded of the neverending greed of governments (Federal, State, City, County, sales, etcetera). There appears to be no problem that the government answer to the problem is more and higher taxes (aka "investments"), nor any activity that should not be taxed.

If we actually recieved value for the tax dollars we pay, that would be one thing. But the complete ineptness of virtually every beauracracy that I have ever dealt with (think DMV, USPS, IRS) destroys that hope. On the other hand, perhaps we should be thankful we DO NOT get all the government we pay for!

The best way to get rid of a bad law... (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8876414)

... is to inforce it religiously.

Go to town! There more than enough money at stake for Florida businesses to spend the money to get rid of this.
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