Kelly William Cobb
How the FCC Plans to Tax the Internet
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its National Broadband Plan (PDF), an outline for the federal government to become significantly more involved in universal broadband access. The plan, which the FCC estimates will cost $350 billion, claims it pays for itself (a point already called into question), but the plan itself calls for raising taxes on the Internet, as well as enacting some that have yet to exist.
Voter Fraud in the Name of Tax Hikes
The Democrat controlled Washington Legislature has been licking their lips over the prospect of drastically raising taxes ever since voters approved Initiative 960 back in 2007. The measure established a 2/3 supermajority vote for the legislature to raise taxes.
Well, in late February, tax-and-spend lawmakers got their wish and voted to suspend the I-960 roadblock, singlehandedly opening the floodgate for recent tax increases. The vote against I-960 was especially important for House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, who led the recent $680 million tax hike vote in the House. It was so important for her agenda in fact, that she committed voter fraud to help pass it on a narrow 51-47 margin.
Above is a picture of House Majority Leader Kessler voting to suspend I-960. The only problem is she's voting on behalf of Rep. Jeff Morris, her absent seatmate, after she had already cast her vote. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, which broke the story, has evidence that this occurred multiple times on the House floor during this and other votes.
These actions are downright fraudulent and an embarrassing display of corrupt governance by lawmakers who evidently feel nothing but contempt for representative democracy. If Washingtonians wanted a pseudo-Kingdom where Rep. Kessler and friends could rule however they saw fit, they wouldn't have established a legislature in Article 2 of the State Constitution, or the House rules that bar such practice. Further, if Washingtonians wanted what Rep. Kessler must commit voter fraud to achieve (namely at least $680 million in higher taxes), they wouldn't have approved I-960 requiring the 2/3 supermajority rule for tax hikes in the first place.
In other news, Washington State's Constitution under Article II, Section 9 also allows the House to expel a member found in contempt for violating the rules - again with a 2/3 vote of the chamber. Maybe Rep. Kessler can lend her skills to lower that standard to a simple majority vote as well. Then they can hold another vote - this time to throw her out.
California Lawmakers Really Want to Tax the Internet
Originally posted on www.StopETaxes.com.
Currently in Special Session, lawmakers have taken the language from last year's measure and inserted it into a new bill (ABX8 8), pushing a tax hike under the guise that they are simply clarifying current tax law. The affiliate nexus tax (or "Amazon" tax) has been tossed back and forth between legislative chambers, but now is scheduled for final passage in the State Assembly.
While vetoing the bill last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger rightly noted that it will cause much more harm to California businesses than it will do to raise revenue. Since the bill assumes out-of-state retailers who advertise with in-state websites are obligated to collect tax, those out-of-state retailers can simply sever their relationships with California companies. This means no tax collected for the state, a huge profit loss for California based advertisers, and another subsequent decline in tax revenue collected from these advertisers' profits.
This appears to be of less concern to money-hungry lawmakers in Sacramento than to maintaining current spending levels. Proponents claim the bill will raise $150 million, knowing full well for reasons above that the measure will actually raise next to nothing. The only possible justification then is to fake tax revenue numbers to maintain current spending baselines, almost guaranteeing at least a $150 million "budget shortfall" next year - all while hurting California businesses and consumers. This is objectively horrible and deceptive public policymaking.
In recent days, the Governor has stated his reluctance to sign off on the same bill he vetoed for good reason last year. Should this pass the Assembly, we hope he carries this veto out.
CLICK HERE to write your state lawmakers in opposition to etaxes. Also, click here for ATR's letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger urging him to veto the bill should it pass and click here for ATR's alert to the legislature.
FCC: We'll Just Give Ourselves Authority to Regulate the Internet
Virginia and Colorado Online Tax Bills Take Interesting Twists
Originally posted at www.StopETaxes.com.
A Colorado measure aimed at requiring consumers to pay tax on all online purchases took an interesting and disturbing twist on Wednesday. As we previously reported, the Colorado House passed an unconstitutional bill (HB 1193) to require out-of-state Internet retailers to collect tax on Coloradoans, known as the affiliate nexus or “Amazon” tax. Yesterday the Senate also approved the measure, but not without making some significant changes.
Utah Legislators Paving the Way for Higher Taxes
- A $1.30 per pack cigarette tax hike. On average, smokers have a median income of little more than $36,000, about 30 percent less than non-smokers. That hasn’t stopped lawmakers from pushing a $94 million tax hike onto lower income individuals.
- Establishing a progressive, three-tiered income tax with a top rate of 7% – abolishing the state’s 5% flat tax.
- A 10-cent gas tax hike set to cost consumers over $100 million.
- Eliminating the sales tax vendor credit for another $20 million tax hike.
- Raising the tax on food to match the state’s general sales tax rate.
Colorado Legislature Kicks Off 2010 with an eTax
Originally posted at www.StopETaxes.com.
Here we go again! Colorado has officially became the first state this year push a bill to collect taxes on all internet purchases. Yesterday, the House Finance Committee considered "affiliate nexus tax" legislation in a hearing amongst a number of other tax proposals. The measure would require out-of-state online retailers with no physical presence in the state to collect taxes on Colorado residents.
While the bill is a tax increase on consumers and a significant burden on online businesses (and interstate commerce), it also will likely fail to raise revenue. Last year, when the bill passed in Rhode Island, the tax was estimated to raise no additional tax revenue and this has been confirmed by the Department of Revenue. In fact, there was even a bill introduced in Rhode Island this year (House Bill 7071) that would repeal the tax.
Unlike other nexus tax bills, however, Colorado's House Bill 1193 goes one disturbing step further to allow the Department of Revenue to issue subpoenas to any out-of-state business that would require them to provide personal information about their Colorado customers. Who doesn't love sharing their personal information including possibly credit card numbers and purchase details with the government? Presumably, it would allow the state to come after residents to collect "use tax" on the products. Even worse, if a business doesn't provide the information and chooses to protect the proprietary information of their customers, they can be held in contempt. It also would apply regardless of the fact that the same internet tax bill is currently being challenged as unconstitutional in New York.
Similar bills have also been introduced in New Mexico, Virginia, and Mississippi this year. No matter where you live, click here to write your state legislature now and oppose taxes on internet commerce.
Also, click here for a copy of ATR's letter to the Colorado House Finance Committee opposing the eTax.
Ghost of Tim Kaine Seeks to Raise Price of Spirits
On the campaign trail, Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed a terrific idea to bring the Commonwealth of Virginia additional revenue: privatize state-run liquor stores. In 2002, the Wilder Commission estimated that selling off ABC stores would generate more than $500 million in revenue, not including another $115 million saved from eliminating overhead.
Yet Another Tax Hike Laden Budget for New York
- $1 per pack cigarette tax increase ($218 million)
- 3% severance tax on oil extraction from the Marcellus and Utica shales
- Tax on “sugary” soft drinks ($465 million)
- Numerous taxes and surcharges on healthcare providers ($240 million)