Steve Jobs Can't Save You Now

|

CNET reports on which states are taxing, or considering taxing, internet downloads. Most of the culprits are "red states," but a few have Democratic legislatures—thus the tax-happy policymaking.

NEXT: I Swear This Country Drives Me Crazy Sometimes

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Remember when some Democratic Senators were talking about taxing Internet Porn? That was funny.

    Would the “Beware of Weight Training guy” have been taxed? Hmmm….

  2. There ought to be a blog download tax, since that’s 1’s and 0’s just as much as iTunes.

  3. Wouldn’t a strict reading of the First Amendment prohibit taxation on the sale or rental of any books, newspapers, films, music, etc.?

    It is about time for a second set of Stamp Act protests.

    Kevin

  4. kevrob, that is a damn good point!

    Give me tax-free magazines or give me meth!
    (I don’t want to give up my life for the cause, but I’m willing to forgo sleep.)

  5. Most of the culprits are “red states,” but a few have Democratic legislatures – thus the tax-happy policymaking.

    “Nine states that tax digital-media downloads have legislatures controlled by Democrats. Five have Republican-controlled legislatures.”
    (the list immediately following that statement shows nine D states and six R states, not five).

    Math is hard!

  6. Okay, I’m not a legal scholar, but couldn’t a case be made that these states have no jurisdiction over downloads as most Internet purchases are made from a person in one state (or even country) buying an item from a producer/retailer (I-Tunes, Amazon) in another state?

    Therefore, because of the Commerce Clause, these states are stepping into an area that the Constitution (and subsequent federal case law) reserves exclusively for Congress.

    I’m sure this will make it’s way to Ohio, as our criminal GOP governor acts like a proverbial liberal on a wild, drunken spending spree when it comes to taxation. (You would think that the huge amount of vacant office and retail space in downtown Columbus would be a sign to said moron).

    Of course, I guess it never occurs to these elected morons that the more (and heavily) they tax such activity, the less it will occur, and therefore kill their golden goose by creating disincentives for buying behavior.

    ***Sigh****

  7. How exactly is this to be implemented? A per song fee charged by iTunes? Or a per kilobyte fee charged by the ISP?

  8. MoreOfTheSame writes:”Okay, I’m not a legal scholar, but couldn’t a case be made that these states have no jurisdiction over downloads as most Internet purchases are made from a person in one state (or even country) buying an item from a producer/retailer (I-Tunes, Amazon) in another state?”

    You already have to pay sales tax on “real stuff” purchases from the online Apple Store if you’re in any of the states where Apple has a material business presence – for example, a retail store.

  9. “How exactly is this to be implemented? A per song fee charged by iTunes?”

    There’s no need to complicate it – I doubt they’d tax it differently from how they’re billed. They’re billed to your credit card, on a per-song basis, so for the purposes of sale they’re handled no differently than if you’d purchased a bunch of $.99 items at WalMart on your credit card.

    The tax would just be a % of the purchase price, just like sales tax on any other purchase.

  10. MoreOfTheSame — Presumably states would have the same jurisdiction over downloads made by their residents as they do over purchases of material goods made in other states by their residents – “use tax”. Which I know everyone here fills out the forms for and pays every year… The insidious here is the possibility that the states see the opportunity to cooperatively use the internet as a checkpoint to control and tax such purchases in a way that they never could police their physical borders (and from which they might well be constitutionally prohibited).

    kevrob & Thoreau — Rembember that standing Supreme Court precedent holds that the First Amendment only applies fully to “political speech”. I suppose that might mean that the states could freely tax Beethoven’s Fifth, but not the latest Green Day album.

  11. If you have Internet Service or access, you are most likely already paying various local, state, and federal taxes. Isn’t that enough?! Oh hell, what am I saying? The word enough is not in a tax collector’s vocabulary.

  12. Oh, why not just tack a few more dollars onto the cigarette tax and be done with it?

  13. Think the Red/Blue distribution is partly due to Republicans assuming that the vast majority of downloaders are young, and therefore, more likely to be Democratic? The Dems may not be worried about this, as it fits in with their basic agenda (tax-n-spend, vs borrow-n-spend) anyhow.

  14. Most of the culprits are “red states,”

    Thank you for putting “red states” in quotation marks. I?m not sure I?ve ever seen anyone do that, even though everyone should, if only to ridicule the whole convention of calling states by colours.

  15. Wouldn’t a strict reading of the First Amendment prohibit taxation on the sale or rental of any books, newspapers, films, music, etc.?

    Michigan (for one) applies sales tax to books but not to magazines or other publications that carry advertising. I’m not sure what the rationale for that distinction is, but it’s been that way for a long while. Not every sales clerk knows it, either…

  16. I like the government’s thinking here: “this Internet thing… people are makings tons of money on that… I want a piece”

    As perennial right-wing-web-site topics go, it’s an interesting one, but every once in a while I need to take a break from that, read in Slate about whatever’s on HBO this week

  17. Barbie:

    I think they’re going on the idea that the “red states” are the ones who voted for Bush. That is possible despite the part that controls the state legislature.

  18. Rembember that standing Supreme Court precedent holds that the First Amendment only applies fully to “political speech”.

    Even political speech doesn’t get full protection anymore; see McConnell v. FEC.

  19. David Weigel:

    …but a few have Democratic legislatures – thus the tax-happy policymaking.

    Yeah, here in Colorado this outrage would never have happened had the Dems not just captured both houses of our legislature in the last election. Their attitude favors more tax dollars with which to buy votes over liberty and prosperity.

  20. Oh yeah, Democrats are really much worse than Republicans. Jesus, what bullshit. Why we libertarians continue to put any faith in the Bible-thumping, science-trashing GOP just because it gives lip service to low taxes is a mystery to me. The Republicans want to shove their morality down everybody’s throat. Liberty my ass. I’d sooner vote for fascists. At least they’re honest.

  21. Surely, DHS will be monitoring who downloads my music. In the interest of freedom, you know. Just think of the children.

  22. Jack,

    No, you wouldn’t be doing any voting for fascists. Not at all.

  23. Maine’s knicklehead Senator Snowe (who is an allegedly a Republican) thinks this is a spiffy idea!

  24. I’d sooner vote for fascists.

    Well, Jack, you have two political parties to choose from…

  25. Jack:

    …just because it (the GOP) gives lip service to low taxes is a mystery to me.

    It’s not just lip service. The GOP members of congress vote for far less spending then their Dem counterparts:

    http://www.ntu.org/main/misc.php?MiscID=13

    I know that the same is true of the state reps and senators here in Colorado.

    This should not be construed as a defense of Bush. As is evidenced by his big spending agenda, he is in no way a fiscal conservative-Just the opposite.

    The Republicans want to shove their morality down everybody’s throat.

    Not mush more, if at all, then the Dems. The Dems can be counted on as pretty reliable opponents of the legalization of drugs, prostitution, and gambling. (Unless of course it’s the government running the gambling or taking a huge cut out of it.) In these areas I say: A plague on both their houses!

  26. Nice one, thoreau. I think you’ve hatched a good meme for an LP ad campaign as well.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.