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California Lawmaker Proposes Music Download Tax

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the ideas-from-up-north-moving-south dept.

Businesses 326

modemac writes "Sacramento, California Assemblyman Charles Calderon wants to expand a 75-year-old sales tax on 'tangible personal property' to include music downloads from iTunes and other music-download sites. The tax would specifically apply to music downloads, but the estimate used in this article for revenue generated by 'Net downloading also "includes pornography downloads." The measure, AB 1956, will be considered on Monday, April 14th."

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tax deduction (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000074)

Does this mean we might be able to get a tax deduction for pr0n?

Re:tax deduction (4, Funny)

value_added (719364) | about 6 years ago | (#23000602)

Does this mean we might be able to get a tax deduction for pr0n?

Only if you're filing as an individual. If you're filing jointly, you have bigger problems than your tax liability.

I've been trying without success to claim deductions for blackjack and hookers for years, so my advice is to just pay up. And don't forget to leave a tip.

Exemptions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000740)

Is downloading music from that old protocol whose name is not to be mentioned exempt from the tax?

Will only encourage "illegal" downloading (1)

ScienceDada (1232890) | about 6 years ago | (#23000124)

The government has no authority to take a cut of anything they wish. To stick it to the man, many would just circumvent the system.

Re:Will only encourage "illegal" downloading (4, Insightful)

Psmylie (169236) | about 6 years ago | (#23000258)

"The government has no authority to take a cut of anything they wish."

No kidding... I thought the whole point of sales tax was SUPPOSED to be that it supported the infrastructure (roads, etc.) needed to actually sell the product, which is why sales tax makes sense as far as ordering off of, for example, Amazon.com goes (stuff still needs shipping). As far as I am aware, the government doesn't actually have an infrastructure to support regarding just downloads. The entire cost is borne by ISPs and the site you download from (thus, by extension, the consumers themselves).

I see no need for a sales tax on downloads other than padding pockets and paying for totally unrelated projects.

Re:Will only encourage "illegal" downloading (3, Insightful)

jesterpilot (906386) | about 6 years ago | (#23000718)

The entire cost is borne by ISPs and the site you download from How about
  • Education of the people working at the company;
  • The juridical and monetary systems that make doing any business possible;
  • Scientific research which forms the base of any modern technology;
  • Basic health care, environmental protection, police, fire protection and many other generic systems that give people the possibility to be a customer instead of a hunter-gatherer?
It's ridiculous to exempt an entire economic sector from taxes. It is stealing from people in other businesses.

Re:Will only encourage "illegal" downloading (2, Insightful)

boris111 (837756) | about 6 years ago | (#23000732)

So what you're saying is CA plans to subsidize our internet connections... sweet!

Re:Will only encourage "illegal" downloading (1, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#23000756)

What about the cost to build the electrical infrastructure to bring power to the ISP's servers? Or the taxpayer-subsidized telecom infrastructure that provides the bandwidth required to deliver the music to your PC?

Re:Will only encourage "illegal" downloading (2, Informative)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | about 6 years ago | (#23001090)

California is so broke (runaway extremist, anti profit, tree huggers prohibiting growth and taxing everyone to death) that they have to find new and creative ways to tax it's residence to the point of total socialism because everyone there is to dumb to th think for themselves and eliminate this government nonsense.

There, I had my say!

Tangible Personal Property? (5, Interesting)

PolyDwarf (156355) | about 6 years ago | (#23000126)

Does that mean that, in California, we'd actually own the music files, and would not be able to be prosecuted for shifting those files, breaking the encryption, etc?

Also, what does "tangible" mean? To me, it means something a bit more permanent than bits on a disk. After all, if someone gets near it with a magnet, there goes your "tangible" property. The same cannot be said for a car, a bookshelf, a can of paint, etc.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (5, Funny)

bbernard (930130) | about 6 years ago | (#23000196)

"After all, if someone gets near it with a magnet, there goes your "tangible" property. The same cannot be said for a car"

That depends on the size of your magnet.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (5, Insightful)

ThosLives (686517) | about 6 years ago | (#23000230)

On a related note: If I was in California, I'd ask this congressman what benefit I as an individual and California as a whole would receive for the increased revenue. Would I get more use of my product? Would the money be used to increase pay for congressmen? Would it offset some other tax? Without knowing those things, and also having compensation in the language of the bill for what happens if those funds are not used for the approved task, the increase should be disallowed. On behalf of everyone who wishes to avoid California setting precedent, please write your representatives!

I personally don't mind taxes as long as there is a clear benefit for the additional cost. When taxes increase with no increase in benefit, there's a problem.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (5, Informative)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#23000234)

That is the point of the bill this guy is proposing. He wants to update it from tangible to include information.

"The notion of taxing tangible, physical property is really an industrial-era construct when we made widgets and sold widgets," Calderon said Friday. "Now it's not about widgets, it's about information, and selling information and moving information."
So to sum it up, he wants to tax information.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (2, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 6 years ago | (#23000836)

So to sum it up, he wants to tax information.
But we've been doing this for a long time now. DVDs, CDs, and books are nothing more than information with some packaging that cost much, much less than the information they hold.

Or, to flip it around, you could just as easily say that they're not taxing the information, they're taxing the actual, physical signals that iTunes is sending you.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | about 6 years ago | (#23000888)

To sum it up, he wants to tax everything. Such is the nature of the bureaucrat.

Not exactly (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#23001262)

he wants to tax the selling of digital information.

Just like the tax that have when you buy a book or CD. Ultimately, that's a tax on information as well.

He actually has a clue about what is happening. Whether or not you agree it should be taxed is another matter.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (4, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | about 6 years ago | (#23000252)

Does that mean that, in California, we'd actually own the music files, and would not be able to be prosecuted for shifting those files, breaking the encryption, etc?
No. You don't get to own the music, and you don't get to own the license to listen to the music. You don't get to own anything. What you do get when "purchasing" a song is the right to listen to it whenever the license agreement and DRM software says you can.

You get what you pay for.
Buyer beware.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 6 years ago | (#23000260)

It's a bit of a dubious definition for a collection of 1s and 0s:

1 capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; material or substantial.
2. real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary: the tangible benefits of sunshine.
3. definite; not vague or elusive: no tangible grounds for suspicion.
4. (of an asset) having actual physical existence, as real estate or chattels, and therefore capable of being assigned a value in monetary terms.

Music files aren't tangible in the sense of the bold sections, but they are tangible in the sense of the italic section. However, the italic section is preceded by "therefore" and so it is an implied feature rather than a stand alone definition. It wouldn't surprise me if he was bending that last bit, though.

As well as going near it with a magnet (since someone could argue that you go near a bookshelf with a flame and you won't have it any more) the other difference is copying. You can't make a perfect copy of a car/CD/book without physical materials, and it's never perfect. Music files, being binary, are perfectly cloned and don't need any raw materials. I think that should be an obvious enough distinction between the two in terms of "tangible property" even if you do ignore "well I can't touch the file on my disk".

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 6 years ago | (#23000304)

You think dictionary definitions matter to large corporations?

Have you used your "unlimited" broadband, recently? Have you ever seen close to your "up to xMb" speed achieved?

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (1)

Nullav (1053766) | about 6 years ago | (#23000852)

since someone could argue that you go near a bookshelf with a flame and you won't have it any more
True, but bits on a disk regularly shift as files are created, deleted or modified. Your bookshelf (probably) won't be turning into a bench in the near future.

Get over yourselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000874)

Sales tax is levied on all goods and services (with some specific exceptions) that are bought and sold in a state. This generally includes you order over the net for delivery to your home. Sale of music (even if there's nothing tangible being exchanged) seems to be consistent with the spirit of this concept.

No, this has nothing to do with RIAA, and your free downloads will not be taxes.

Re:Tangible Personal Property? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 6 years ago | (#23001068)

I don't have to go near your bookshelf with a magnet to destroy it (unless it's on your Kindle), but I can go by your bookshelf with a flamethrower and be just as effective in making it just a little less tangible.

While I don't agree that something that can be replicated "out of nothing" with no loss to the original should ever be considered tangible (living beings are not created "from nothing" because food is consumed and converted into cells), but pointing out that there are some holes in your argument.


Can't have it both ways... (5, Insightful)

robinsonne (952701) | about 6 years ago | (#23000130)

If music, etc is "tangible property" now, does that mean we get the same kind of fair use we expect from the other kinds of "tangible property" we own?

Re:Can't have it both ways... (2, Interesting)

giafly (926567) | about 6 years ago | (#23000494)

If music, etc is "tangible property" now, does that mean we get the same kind of fair use we expect from the other kinds of "tangible property" we own?
And if imaginary property is now redefined as real property, do the owners of patents and copyrights have to pay property tax?

Of course not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000672)

Just because they tax it doesn't mean you have any special rights to use it as you wish.

Having control over something valuable has, in the past, served as justification for a tax. However, that doesn't work in reverse; having to pay tax on something is not justification for the ability to control it.

Why would you expect otherwise?

Re:Can't have it both ways... (2, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | about 6 years ago | (#23000790)

Silly rabbit. State or Federal Government has no constitutional right to grant personal rights of any kind. They are limited to taking your rights and your property away from you...

Re:Can't have it both ways... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 6 years ago | (#23000984)

They are limited to taking your rights and your property away from you...

Well, that's what copyright does. It takes away your right to copy. In this case, to replicate your possessions.

Wrong title (4, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | about 6 years ago | (#23000138)

That should read: "Idiot Lawmaker Proposes Music Download Tax" but that may be redundant. Besides the obvious fact that it would be very hard to police (esp. the pr0n) this would lead to more piracy. Only legitimate outlets would be effected.

"But his measure is being soundly criticized by Republicans, who are opposed to any tax increases to solve the deficit problem."

So if you're not FOR the tax, you don't want to lower the deficit!

" His bill, AB 1956, comes as Apple reports that its iTunes store has leap-frogged over Wal-Mart to become the top music retailer in the United States with more than 4 billion downloads sold."

Odds are this bill comes AS A RESULT of iTunes leapfrogging Wal-Mart.

But we don't own it (1)

adam1234 (696497) | about 6 years ago | (#23000140)

If there's one thing the music companies have made clear, it's that we don't own anything when we purchase songs online. We're merely licensing the song for limited uses under their EULA.

Re:But we don't own it (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 6 years ago | (#23000270)

... Which is why I don't buy songs from online stores.
If I don't own the things I buy, I'm not going to pay for the privilage of not owning it; I may as well not own it for free and download it off LimeWire, or borrow a mates CD.
Good luck policing that last one, by the way.
Side note: My CAPTCHA image? "copied"

Seems to encourage piracy... (2)

AshyBoy (1094387) | about 6 years ago | (#23000142)

Apparantly they think music piracy isn't rampant enough and feel the need to encourage it with a tax on legal downloads. Smart.

Re:Seems to encourage piracy... (3, Funny)

djasbestos (1035410) | about 6 years ago | (#23000278)

Well, unlike tea, music downloads can't be dumped into the harbor...so much for "tangible"...I guess the closest thing would be filling up this asshat's hard drive with Rick Astley.

Is it considered property when you don't "Own" it? (4, Interesting)

Xanthvar (1046980) | about 6 years ago | (#23000192)

Is it considered property when you don't "Own" it? If I owned the music that I downloaded, I could give it away for free, and not be breaking the law. Instead, I am told that I don't own it, and am violating the IP of company X. In a way, this law could be a great thing, as, if they can tax it, then you must own it. If you own it, you can do whatever you like with it. Of course, IANAL, so this could all just be a pipe dream on my part.

Re:Is it considered property when you don't "Own" (1)

Mr3vil (1268850) | about 6 years ago | (#23000486)

On the one hand a music download tax sucks. On the other hand, if the PRK did tax digital downloads that would make them tangible property of the buyer under the law. That would most definitely undermine the efforts of the **AA To make you pay damn near every time you watch a movie or listen to a song, or want to make a song a ringtone on your phone. I'm surprised the **AA hasn't lobbied against this bill.

Re:Is it considered property when you don't "Own" (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 6 years ago | (#23000632)

One problem, I get taxed for phone service and cable TV and I don't own either. They just classify it as a service and then the service provider taxes me (and adds a hefty fee for processing that tax). It ends up being "free money" for the state government and the provider so it becomes a "good" thing no matter what you or I say.

Re:Is it considered property when you don't "Own" (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | about 6 years ago | (#23000808)

Well, if the songs are considered the labels' property, are they subject to property taxes? If I were the assessor, I'd use the own RIAA's estimates of what they think their songs are worth in lobbying efforts and copyright trials. That should provide more than enough money to the state, no?

Re:Is it considered property when you don't "Own" (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 6 years ago | (#23001066)

But you can give it away, you're just not allowed to keep a copy of it.

What is this guy smoking (0, Offtopic)

FireXtol (1262832) | about 6 years ago | (#23000216)

Why don't they just finally legalize marijuana and tax it to hell. Cut out the drug dealer's huge profit margin, and put it into humanitarian efforts.

Re:What is this guy smoking (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | about 6 years ago | (#23000348)

If you legalize something and tax it to hell, you don't remove the profit margin of those who sell it illegally.

Re:What is this guy smoking (3, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | about 6 years ago | (#23000584)

Alcohol and tobacco are two examples of legal products that are taxed to hell. There is not a large black market for these items. I would expect Cannabis to behave similarly. It would cost maybe 50 cents to manufacture a pack of joints and you could retail it around the same price as cigarettes. Plenty of room for insane taxes but the retail price is just too low to have organized crime rings fighting over the market.

Re:What is this guy smoking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000362)

Why don't they just finally legalize marijuana and tax it to hell. Cut out the drug dealer's huge profit margin, and put it into humanitarian efforts.
Why would you want marijuana "taxed to hell"? I agree it should be legal and taxed, but why should it be above sales tax?

Re:What is this guy smoking (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 6 years ago | (#23000520)

They would call it an "Excise tax" or a "Sin Tax".
They apply this type of tax on cigarettes and alcohol in Canada.

Besides, if the government would do this, their biggest problem would come from the gangs trying to takeout the legitimate marijuana stores in drive-bys and bombings, not competition from the illegal sales on the streets.

Unenforceable (1)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#23000228)

Isn't this one of those things? Or am I using the wrong word?

Re:Unenforceable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000744)

> Unenforceable

I think it means exactly what you think it means.

Re:Unenforceable (1)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#23001114)

Awesome, the medication is working today it seems. Time to go find the cure for cancer! Or find a decent roast beef sandwich. Either will be good today!

Hmmmm ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#23000240)

Doesn't tangible personal property imply it's a good I could re-sell?

If I buy an iTunes track, it's mine, sorta. But, I can't resell it, or give it away, or what have you. It's not tangible by any meaningful sense of that word. It's not like in a bankruptcy proceeding they could seize my music collection to help pay off my debtors.

And, porn? Really? They think people are gonna pay tax on all that free porn they're pulling off (ahem) the internet?

Seriously, yet another lawmaker who wants to monetize the internets to try to generate some cash or protect a special interest, and who doesn't actually know enough about the topic at hand to say anything reasonable. Hopefully, someone can slap some sense into him.


Re:Hmmmm ... (4, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | about 6 years ago | (#23000408)

They think people are gonna pay tax on all that free porn they're pulling off (ahem) the internet?
(emphasis added)
According to TFA, it would be a tax on the sale price:

If Calderon prevails, the 8.25 to 8.75 percent sales-tax rates in effect in most of the Bay Area would raise the cost of that 99-cent download to $1.07 or $1.08.
So, presumably, free porn wouldn't be taxed at all--but you would have to pay tax on any porn you purchase online.

This is interesting because if it's a sales tax, it won't apply to freely distributed intellectual works, like creative commons music. So if all my music downloads are free, I don't have to pay any tax. Presuming that they don't start taxing donations, this would actually make the creative commons business model (release for free, capitalize on donations, concerts, merchandise, etc.) even more compelling (for artist and consumer).

That having been said, this overall sounds like a terrible idea. We need less monetization of intellectual works, not more.

Politician: A.Raise Taxes B.Limit Freedoms (1, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 years ago | (#23000248)

Geez...how does it happen? When between being elected and making that first bill (or first vote) do politicians somehow think their only job is to RAISE taxes....or try to limit personal freedoms?!?!

Why do they always seem to be on the prowl to find yet another way to tax us the public?

I wish somehow, we could pass laws in each state AND nationally, that there be a mortorium on any new tax being instated. For like 5 years minimum...NO NEW TAXES, and even with that...no new taxes without equivalent tax being recinded, or cut in govt. spending.

My God...the more I read about govt. official wanting to tax us in new and creative ways....and making laws to restrict more things we can no longer do (especially the nanny laws about what we can not do with our bodies etc(...the more I respect 'gridlock'.

Sadly...somehow this tax and restrict thing seems to somehow be implated in even new politicians shortly after being elected...I suspect they catch it from other older members. I suppose the only way we could fix it is to somehow make a clean sweep of all those currently in office, not allow any of them back in for several years at least...and start from scratch.

Re:Politician: A.Raise Taxes B.Limit Freedoms (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 6 years ago | (#23000786)

Becuase there are deficits. The only way to pay for them is to increase taxes. The main cause of deficits is that we had this nifty stream taxing millionaries at a higher rate, but turns out when you cut the highest tax bracket by 6%, you lose a lot of money.

I just want the highest bracket to be at 40%, and for capital gains to get taxed as income. Maybe in parallel (so the first $X,000 of capital gains wasn't taxed, the next bit at teh lowest tax rate, etc.).

And 'gridlock' used to be called 'loyal opposition'. The thought was partisan politics would keep anything from getting done unless it really was a good idea. Obviously, if this goes too far, you end up with the Poland of a while ago, or the Articles of Confederation, where unanimity is required; there is always one or two cranks.

I'd love to hear an argument for lowering taxes that wsn't based on the mentality of a three-year-old: This is MINE -or- We lower taxes, *fairy-dust*, more revenue.

Re:Politician: A.Raise Taxes B.Limit Freedoms (1)

silentbozo (542534) | about 6 years ago | (#23001032)

Well, assuming the root cause of this is some sort of transmissible pathogen, we need to:

1. Isolate all existing carriers, and all those the suspected carriers have had contact with. This would include staff, lobbyists, media, party officials, etc.
2. Destroy any item that carriers have come contact with. This would include checks and money from lobbyists, any any existing laws that were recently passed.
3. Institute a quarantine for any recently elected official - if the official exhibits any symptoms of the disease, pack them off to the isolation ward.

Unfortunately, what do you do when the infected control government and the media?

Re:Politician: A.Raise Taxes B.Limit Freedoms (1)

thomas.galvin (551471) | about 6 years ago | (#23001226)

I wish somehow, we could pass laws in each state AND nationally, that there be a mortorium on any new tax being instated. For like 5 years minimum...NO NEW TAXES, and even with that...no new taxes without equivalent tax being recinded, or cut in govt. spending.
I think we need a constitutional amendment that states no person shall be subjected to (local, state, and federal) taxes totaling more than x% of their income, where x is hopefully rather low. Instead of allowing the government to tell us how much we get to keep, we need to start telling the government how much they're allowed to take.

And I realize that as soon as this amendment passed, taxes would be set at x%. That's why x needs to be low. Graduate it based on income levels, if necessary (e.g., make it progressive), but for God's sake, put a cap on it.

Good basis for Riaa taxes (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 6 years ago | (#23000274)

Two points

1) If it is property... then Riaa is going to start paying taxes on it. And of course property tax is value based so RIAA will have a reason to value their property lower.

2) As the value approaches zero, the tax approaches zero. If you sell 1,000 songs for $1.00-- the tax on 1,000 songs is 8 cents (or .008 cents).

Re:Good basis for Riaa taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000380)

if what you're saying is true that makes illegal music downloaders thieves. let's start to see those jail terms! i'm all for it.

Amusing (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 6 years ago | (#23000286)

This is kind of amusing. The state of California has been trying to collect sales taxes on internet purchases for years, and they're been pretty roundly ignored. Yep, there's nothing that engenders respect for the law like passing one you know everyone will ignore.

Taxes (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 6 years ago | (#23000298)

Typical of Liberal Tax and Spend Democrats (as opposed to the Tax and Spend Lite Republicans).

Every year it is more of the same. New "entitlements" where people are "entitled" to money and services that they don't have to pay for.

What the idiots in the legislature don't realize is that all the "rich" people and "evil" companies, who can afford to leave, have and are leaving the state. Meanwhile we can't ask for ID to make sure that the people using these new "entitlements" are residents of the state (legal or otherwise).

Instead of fixing the problem they are adding to it. One of these days all the poor idiots who came to the state to get "free _______" will realize that there's nobody left to pay for it all, and they aren't as "entitled" as they thought.

Re:Taxes (1)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#23000656)

Not being from CA I'm not sure what entitlements you are referring to but I don't think giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations isn't a way to support those entitlements either. It may entice them to stay, but how much of that money is being funneled back into the economy? Wealthy people accrue wealth and keep it that way, shelling out a little on the side to appear philanthropic. I'm not offering a solution because I honestly can't, but I'd prefer to pay taxes and get things in return like good municipal services then not pay taxes and wonder why there are pot holes all over the roads.

boje moy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000330)

Why do yamrheads always get a voice. We need a young government or something new. This blatang money grubbing is becoming to much.

Just wait... (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | about 6 years ago | (#23000336)

If this catches on, you might eventually end up ponying up cash on every file that comes in across your WAN connection, including all those lovely invisible 1 by 1 pixel image files used for everything from advertiser user tracking to sloppy page formatting.

Seeing as this is from California (1)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#23000382)

I think it quite fair to treat this like a reality TV show. First we gather together 9 legislators, each of whom want to sponsor some whacked out crack inspired law, like one that wants to tax porn downloads etc.

Then through the week they compete. Some of the competitions are simple, like correctly applying constitutional law to every day situations. Others are more difficult, like a 15000 word essay on financial markets reform.

At the end of the week, the legislator with the least points has to face off (mano a mano) with an Iraq war vet who is pissed off because he lost a leg due to lack of armored vehicles in Iraq. If the fist fight comes out even, each is given a knife. The weapons escalate every 10 minutes until one of them has nothing left to say, or rather is left speechless on the ground.

Then make it impossible for any California legislator to actually go anywhere but prison unless they can prove they watched every episode, and know exactly how their constituents voted each week on the show.

Think that is crazy? Perhaps the spectacle of it would shock legislators into making sense again. Don't ask when the last time they did make sense was because I'm not sure when John Hancock died.

Is there a credit for uploading? (3, Funny)

overshoot (39700) | about 6 years ago | (#23000396)

Of course, every page visited is a download, so in principle they could just tax all traffic.

Given that this is California, that could take quite a byte out of the deficit.

Re:Is there a credit for uploading? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#23001136)

I'm all for this as long as the taxes fund education [paly.net], especially those poor, underpaid UC Regents [sfgate.com]
But seriously, I wouldn't mind massive tuition hikes for non-resident students. Too many damn foreigners(especially the ones from the midwest) are driving costs through the roof. It's tough being a native of the best state in the Union :)

Tangible personal property? (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | about 6 years ago | (#23000430)

Last time I checked, a sequence of 1s and 0s is not tangible. What part of tangible don't these clowns understand?

Re:Tangible personal property? (2, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | about 6 years ago | (#23000686)

They understand it fine. That's why they have to "expand" the tax, to include sales of intangibles.

Attack the messenger (1)

freedom_india (780002) | about 6 years ago | (#23000452)

Let me follow the typical republican strategy of attacking anybody who clashes with their power-to-corporate strategy:
1. I want netizens to dig out juicy personal details about this senator and publish it online in every place: Digg, reddit, etc.
2. Form a focus group which buys ad time much like Swift Boat and puts out ads linking this senator with moneybags.
3. Publish "expert" testimonies from many professors from major universities detailing how such a tax would cause a major recession in the state and also snatch money from schools and education and send it to wall street.
4. Find out risque details about the senator's personal family like daughter or wife and publish or "anonymously".
5. Start impeachment or explusion proceedings even if they have no chance of success.
6. Link increase in terrorism with this senator's proposal arguing that such a tax would deprive the state of its income thus preventing it from allocating enough to fight terrorism. Come on the "America Today" slot at 7 Am and argue with the presenter with colorful graphics and a deep low- cut blouse with looks of Jessica Alba (The presenter has to be a woman).

All in all, make life hell for this guy.

Am sure putting out all fires would make him forget such a tax.

Re:Attack the messenger (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#23000712)

Publish "expert" testimonies from many professors from major universities detailing how such a tax would cause a major recession in the state and also snatch money from schools and education and send it to wall street

Let's look at reality here. Taxation and fiscal policy plays a huge role in where businesses live, consumers shop, and people live. Taxes do make a determination as to whether or not to engage in a business. If your gross profit margin is ten percent, and taxes are fifty percent on that activity, there's a much lower chance of you engaging in that activity, then, if the tax was ten percent.

But really, all you really have to do is compare those areas that follow the standard left formula of high taxes and big public works, versus those states that try to do things on the cheap. Ireland has the lowest corporate taxes of any industrialized nation, and they are booming. In the USA, rustbelt states, in particularly, Michigan, follows the formula of high taxes, and no one in their right mind wants to build a business their either. Cities all across the United States are leaking people because the taxes are much higher their than in the suburbs. Similarly, states with high taxes are gradually losing people to those states that do not have high taxes. Why anyone in their right mind would live in New Jersey is beyond me, and a lot of other people feel the same was as the state is experiencing a net decline in people, and has to sell its Turnpikes to try and make ends meet.

Now, it is always the Democrats that talk about sending money to Wall Street or to Big Oil or Big Computers or Big this or big that, as if, to engage in a business and to make a profit is a crime. I'm always amused by Obama's ads, talking about how he will make sure that Big Oil won't make a profit either, because they don't deserve it when the price of gas is so high. I have to wonder, where were the Democrats when hundreds of thousands of oil workers were getting laid off during the 1990s, and the very survival of Exxon was at stake. Ultimately, oil, like many other companies are boom and bust operations, and they are either booming or busting. But given that, the question is, if you have a President or a political party that sets the tone that for you to get rich is a crime, why would you even bother to invest where-ever that party has power?

Re:Attack the messenger (1)

freedom_india (780002) | about 6 years ago | (#23000880)

Oil? Who talked about oil?
Those bastards deserve to be taxed at 75% rate.
About your concern about layoffs, how come Exxon did not layoff its CEO or reduced its salary of board, etc., in 1990s when it was laying off workers?
Lets face facts here: Any company survives solely to earn money for its shareholders. Period. Whichever way they can use, they WILL use it. Much like a bull boy in school who beats up others to get their lunch since it is cheaper and easier to snatch it from others than make your own.
Corporates are no different.
So, the only way to prevent their destructive streak and to support the citizens they employ is by taxing the hell out of them.

Re:Attack the messenger (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#23001198)

Oil? Who talked about oil?
Those bastards deserve to be taxed at 75% rate.

Why should they be taxed at a 75% rate? Why, because gas prices are so high? What I do not understand is, if you are so imperialistically inclined as to confiscate the wealth of your own countrymen, then why is it so wrong to go and invade Iraq to "steal their oil". I mean, if gas prices are so high and so evil that they are high, that you can go and confiscate Exxon out of business because he's a fat necked CEO, then what's really the crime, in your eyes, of robbing a bunch of muslims that bomb each other unless they are ruthlessly occupied?

So, the only way to prevent their destructive streak and to support the citizens they employ is by taxing the hell out of them.

Actually, no. First off, corporate boards work to ensure profitability while also using the company to advance their social goals. It is the representatives of the shareholders who put the pressure on first the board and then company to perform or else. This is, ultimately, a good thing, because, the shareholders ARE the citizens.


So, not only will you screw the people that work at Exxon or any corporation, if you tax the hell out of them, you will also screw the -millions- of citizens that own stock in that company.

And you still haven't answered the question... why would anyone do anything, if they weren't allowed to make any money?

Wall Street is my choice (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#23000928)

Publish "expert" testimonies from many professors from major universities detailing how such a tax would cause a major recession in the state and also snatch money from schools and education and send it to wall stree

It's my money. If I want to put my money in a 401k, in Wall Street, versus your school, then, that's my choice. I would think that, if the education of your child was so important to you, then might be motivated to earn enough to pay for it. My question is, if health care, education and even food are not important enough for Democrats to earn to pay for, then, what is?

This is complete horsepuckey. (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 years ago | (#23000498)

A tax on downloads is the worst possible way to handle this.

First, it does not solve any of the "problems". Any of them.

Second, everybody is being charged for a "problem" (the quotes are on purpose... I don't agree that there even is a real problem here) caused by a relative few.

Third, the money is going to the wrong people.

And so on. It's just a BAD idea.

Tough for California to say no... (4, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#23000530)

California is facing some enormous budget shortfalls and the Democratic controlled state legislature simply will not cut state spending. Arnold (by no means a hard right winger), tried to cut spending but met with a hailstorm of resistance in a state whose politics are dominated by powerful unions.

Democrats in California have already been arguing for a tax increase, and in that environment, saying that sales taxes have to be paid on internet items might be politically the easiest thing for them to do. After all, they could argue, somewhat disingenously - why should everyone else pay taxes, but internet businesses not?

Define "download" (4, Interesting)

jockeys (753885) | about 6 years ago | (#23000540)

in the digital world, there is very little difference between "viewing" and "downloading" so where will the line be drawn?

in the case of pr0n, even if you don't download it to your hard drive, if you can see it in your browser, you have downloaded it. (duh, you got the data somehow) would this same principle apply to net radio, streaming music, youtube, etc? makes you wonder how far they will run with it.

Re:Define "download" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000640)

Presumably, if you're watching it for free there wouldn't be any tax, where if you're paying for it (through an adult website membership, most likely) they'd want their pound of flesh. I mean, their piece of the pie. Fistful of dollars?

Is this really a new issue? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23000558)

Interesting, I've always paid state sales taxes on my iTunes downloads here in Maine. I never realized until now that some other states [who have sales tax] weren't doing the same.

Where To Pay the Tax? (4, Interesting)

Gallenod (84385) | about 6 years ago | (#23000596)

This rasies a basic question: Which state can collect a tax on an Internet-based sale, the state where the seller operates or the state where the consumer makes the purchase?

Let's say I live in Vermont and I buy a song from iTunes, which is based in California.

Vermont claims that people owe it sales tax because they're in Vermont and buying something in another state that they could be buying here. If a Vermont resident goes to another state with no or lower sales tax to buy a car, Vermont requires that they pay Vermont's sales tax equal to the difference between the two when they register it in Vermont. There's also a section on Vermont tax returns that asks state residents to estimate the sales tax we would have paid if we'd bought something locally instead of through a Web site that, at present, implies that if they buy music through iTunes they should be paying state tax on the purchase.

The California proposal seems to think consumers are going, in a virtual sense, to California to buy my music. Because the transaction happens in California, they want to collect tax.

The Vermont requirement is apparently widely ignored and impossible to enforce unless the out-of-state business collects the tax for it. The California proposal would be enforceable only as long as the iTunes music store is hosted there. It would likely be moved off-shore if this proposal passes.

This will likely take Federal legislation or a Supreme Court decision defining the basis for where a tax is levied: on the location of the consumer or the location of the business. If the former, every business with a Web presence will have to incorporate 50+ different tax rules based on customer location, possibly more if they serve international customers.

It would be simpler would be to tax where the business is located, but then most states would object to the revenue loss and businesses would move their Web operations to states with low or no sales tax or off-shore (which would then likely cause Congress to pass legislation allowing states to tax their residents for out-of-state purchases anyway).

As always, it's about money which is of course is the root of all evil, which makes us a really evil society.

tax? (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | about 6 years ago | (#23000646)

didn't we already pay a pirate tax on cd sales?
at least in Italy. =D
not that this allow piracy. curiously, company are allowed to tax illicit trades. now THAT is an idea, a tax on drug/terrorism/homicide.

Re:tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23001134)

Actually, there is a tax on marijuana in the U.S. in the form of revenue stamps.

I think the only people who buy them are collectors. Their main purpose is to add tax evasion charges to drug offenders.

Re:tax? (1)

JoeInnes (1025257) | about 6 years ago | (#23001172)

I read somewhere (ie: take this with a pinch of salt, I can't remember the source, and so can't verify it) that in the U.S., you can buy stickers to put on illegal goods (ie: drugs) that you are smuggling into the country, so you can only be caught for the crime of smuggling contraband, not for smuggling to avoid paying tax. As I said, this may not be true, although I remember believing it at the time (maybe I'm just gullible though).

It is for the children (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | about 6 years ago | (#23000662)

only the rich have computers anyway
they need to pay their fair share those dirty rotten music down loaders
we are taxing perverts, you want to tax them, right?
it is for the children.
the revenue will go towards reducing our impact on the environment!

which statements can we queue up to support this? I expect the bulk of them to show up at one time or the other

Sorry, it never ceases to amaze me that when facing a spending problem their first reaction is to increase taxes.

Super Latino Grandstander (4, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | about 6 years ago | (#23000806)

So looking at this guy's legislative website, he claims to be a 'first Latino to do this and that'. He's most proud of getting legislation passed to 'force drug dealers pay for the damage that they cause their community'. So it would appear that he specializes in vague undefined pseudo-laws primarily designed to shake down anyone without the resources to prevent this from happening (lawyers in the USA, private armies in Mexico). Basically another fine-and-upstanding slimeball politician. Wasn't Ahnaald going crunch up all this little schmucks into little balls and turn them into shiny new barbells?

    Check out the shape of his legislative district (California #58). It's a true octopus. Precisely gerrymandered (an American term meaning the drawing of political boundaries to ensure permanent re-election of the people drawing the boundaries) down to the household to ensure that this bozo can never be voted away.

    In the not-too-distant future, bozos like this will avoid tangling with the technicians in order to avoid having their slimy little scams and fiefdoms exposed on the web like this.

Common everywhere else (4, Informative)

ebcdic (39948) | about 6 years ago | (#23000982)

There seems to be a view in America that for some reason online sale of non-physical products can't be taxed in the same way as other sales, either because it's wrong in some way or impossible to police. And yet in the rest of the world it's common - in Europe you have to pay VAT on iTunes purchases just as you do on everything else.

Re:Common everywhere else (1)

Stele (9443) | about 6 years ago | (#23001232)

Excellent point, and another argument for the Fair Tax (which I strongly support). There would be no dodging paying tax on purchased "goods", virtual or otherwise.

Doesn't this then mean...RIAA Heartburn (1, Redundant)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 6 years ago | (#23001112)

Wouldn't this then mean that you're purchasing the music itself, and not just a license to the music? How does the RIAA feel about that?

Personal property tax on nontangible licensed IP? (1)

TBone (5692) | about 6 years ago | (#23001184)

OK, someone explain how this works to me please.

The RIAA and all seem to insist that, even when buying physical CDs, let alone digital Rights-managed files, that we don't own the files - what we're paying for is a "use license". This is why they have always claimed that we don't have the right to space/time/format shift, make backup copeis, resell, or generally do whatever we want under the Fair Use tenets.

Now, a senator in California is attempting to apply a personal property tax - a tax on tangible, owned goods - to music downloads.

IANAL (obviously, I'm posting and commenting here on /.), but how can you apply a tax on tangible goods to something which, under the use and purchase terms usually found with such "goods", aren't tangible, and aren't owned by the buyer? Seems to me that either this new tax is DOA, or California is about to invalidate and/or make illegal all EULAs which specify that digital music downloads are "licensed" and not "purchased".

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