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Congress and the House decided once more to not tax the Internet!

The U.S. Congress and Senate once again agreed to a bipartisan resolution that extends the Internet tax moratorium.

The highly debated issue saw strong support for keeping the Internet tax free from both those in the industry and from grass roots movements.  ISPs strongly opposed any sort of taxation as it would hurt their revenues by driving away customers.  Users, who joined movements such as the "Don't Tax Our Web Coalition," did not want to be taxed either, as taxation would likely mean higher service charges.

A tax moratorium was originally instituted in 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act.  It was extended twice already, in 2001 and 2004, but has not been permanently passed into law.

The house and senate disagreed on the exact length to ban taxation.  The House passed a resolution calling for a four year ban.  The Senate wanted a seven year ban.  Both legislative bodies saw strong bipartisan support for some kind of ban, though.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) was enthusiastic about the tax moratorium.  He elaborated:

"The Internet has provided a powerful economic boost to our nation,and has become an important everyday tool for millions of Americans.  By keeping Internet access tax-free and affordable,Congress can encourage Internet use for distance learning,telemedicine, commerce and other important services."

Sadly, the internet is not entirely tax free.  The IRS is pushing a proposal as part of this year's budget proposal to track user income made on sites such as eBay.  They plan to use this information to adjust people's income accordingly.

The proposal for extension of the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act will now go to a panel composed of House and Senate members which will iron out the differences between the House and Senate's passed proposals and submit a single proposal to the President.

Should the Internet be tax free?  The answer according to the public seems to be overwhelming yes. However, your income from private Internet sales soon will be taxable.

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By FITCamaro on 10/26/2007 2:34:40 PM , Rating: 2
Always a good thing. However tax freedom on the internet only applies as long as its not a business that operates in your state.

Also, I highly doubt this will last forever as more and more people start to shop online. States loose a lot of money from that and eventually it'll have to change lest states not have the money needed to run things like schools, maintain roads, etc.

RE: Awesome
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2007 2:36:07 PM , Rating: 2

Do we have to suck Cartman's balls to get an edit button around here?

RE: Awesome
By CascadingDarkness on 10/26/2007 4:39:10 PM , Rating: 3
I think it's by design due to the rating system. Ratings don't matter much when what you're rating can change on the fly.

RE: Awesome
By darkpaw on 10/26/2007 5:36:37 PM , Rating: 3
Yah, I do like the lack of edit and how the ratings system works on this site.

I wouldn't mind a 60 second or so grace period for edits though to fix obvious typos. I've seen this system work well on other boards. Prevents people from covering their ass if they really mess up, but does give a little time to fix stuff.

Even with the forced preview, I still tend to miss a lot of typos until about 5 seconds after I hit post comment.

RE: Awesome
By Scrogneugneu on 10/27/2007 12:22:34 AM , Rating: 5
The answer is so easy...

Allow editing of any post as long as there are NO VOTES and NO REPLIES on it yet. As soon as somebody votes on or replies to a post, it's set in stone.

I still wonder what would be wrong with that system.

RE: Awesome
By Polynikes on 10/29/2007 8:28:19 AM , Rating: 2
What's wrong with it? It would require more work to implement! ;)

RE: Awesome
By mindless1 on 10/29/2007 11:16:39 AM , Rating: 2
You write a post, it's posted and the page isn't refreshing again to show new replies or ratings. You then proceed to edit the post only to find that by the time you have, you have wasted your time because there was a reply or rating in the interim. That could become a frustrating problem that encourages people to misuse the system by making many short posts.

(Usually?) the timing wouldn't be so short but during peak usage hours or with lengthly posts, it would tend to bias the posting system in favor of those writing short one-liners and penalizing those who put forth the effort to write longer posts with significant content and these are the very posts often needing rewording for clarity or to provide sources. That could easily take longer than it takes for someone to hit a reply link and proceed to comment on the original post.

IMO, a fixed time limit regardless of votes or replies would be better, or at least an editing system that locks out replies to a post for that same fixed time limit if the poster making the edit has clicked the edit link.

For example, poster #1 makes a post and has 5 minutes to edit. Let people rate it without that locking out editing as the rating doesn't really matter. Suppose poster #1 waits 2 minutes then decides to edit. If someone had already replied before the edit link was clicked, the page refreshes to show the new content and the post can't be edited. If the edit link was clicked before someone else clicked a reply link, replies are locked out for the remainder of the (5 minutes in this example so 3 minutes remaining) editing period. The key being to lock out the reply for the fixed editing period so long as the edit link is clicked before someone else clicks the reply link.

I feel we should completely do away with the preview window and just do that instead. Then again, does it really matter? If someone spells lose as "loose" we can figure out what was meant, it is more distracting to have someone try to correct or have some spelling Nazi come along and complain than to just keep the conversation moving.

When you talk to someone in real life and they slightly mispronounce something, do you try to force the conversation to come to a stop so you can insist they (re)pronounce a word exactly the way you want them to? No, that would be ridiculous unless you're their grammar school teacher, it would be considered quite rude to do it in real life and here it is the same. If perfection in a posting system is that important, it's a matter of ego, not a matter of unpaid leisure time comments about a news article. I now proceed to post this, having not reread it in the preview. It brings to mind another improvement, that the text box needs to be larger and not a fixed font size. It's annoying to need to move closer to my nice big monitor because of limitations in the primary posting interface. There is over 70% empty white and grey space on the page and the very content being written is tiny? Severe flaw in the UI.

RE: Awesome
By neocommunist on 10/27/2007 9:56:44 AM , Rating: 1
OR we could force people to post anonymously so the content of the post is what's being valued and not the person who posted it.

That way people also won't feel a need to "cover their ass" as there is no reputation to build up or maintain: each post's merit stands on its own.

RE: Awesome
By darkpaw on 10/27/2007 10:59:24 AM , Rating: 2
Anon posting boards are the worst, half the posts are pointless trash. I think the reputation system makes people think about what they post.

RE: Awesome
By mindless1 on 10/29/2007 11:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't go that far to say "the worst", I can't count the number of times I had something useful to add but didn't feel like going out of my way to register, wait for email confirmation, click link, etc, just to add content that was useful to THEM, not me. For example in a technical forum I knew what the problem was, knew the solution and was willing to take the time necessary to type that, but when they're choosing to make contributing netizens jump through a hoop just to make a post I say screw 'em, because they could have just provided a "report this post" link to moderate out anything bad enough to need it.

The reputation system does make people think a bit more I suspect, but it also has potential for abuse when net-buddies gang up on someone, when people misuse the system to register multiple accounts, and when people carry grudges against others so they're prone to downrate a post or contextually read something into a post that wouldn't have been assumed otherwise. There is one other important aspect to non-anon posting, in that it allows continuity in a conversation, but I mean non-anon in the sense that a posters isn't called "anonymous", that they are at least allowed to enter a handle-name to allow for conversational continuity.

Ultimately the rating system is all about ego. The younger you are, the more important it will seem to you that your supposed-peers think highly of you. Once you become a cranky old fart and/or gain some confidence in you views, you start caring less about what others think.

I say, take the bad with the good. A combination of words won't burn your eyes out, a troll/etc can be ignored but the main point of having the most convenient posting system for 'net wanderers is that you get the most people who chose to contribute with helpfulness in mind. If a conversation is limited to only those registered at a forum it tends to close that system, it is seldom someone will feel strongly enough about something to register just to post. Instead they tend to gravitate around their favorite forums. Given the number of forums on the net and how many people have hundreds to thousands of posts in only a few handfulls of forums, the situation is better reflected upon. Registration does discourage contribution from a wider audience, creates a more closed community.

Trolls are easy enough to take care of, don't let them get a rise out of you, ignore them and they'll get bored because they're usually just looking for attention.

RE: Awesome
By Ringold on 10/27/2007 2:53:36 PM , Rating: 3
You would say that with an average -.5 rating :P

RE: Awesome
By afkrotch on 10/29/2007 1:29:44 AM , Rating: 2
Ppl can just better analyze their post before making it. Me...small typos I really don't care about. If your posts has 1 or 2 typos, but the point is made, then I'm fine. If your post is pointless gibberish, then I'd downrate you and no post, just to keep it in there.

RE: Awesome
By GlassHouse69 on 10/29/2007 2:42:41 AM , Rating: 1
U SUXORZ FAWKEAD!@#$@#!!!!!!!!!!!!

RE: Awesome
By EglsFly on 10/26/2007 8:15:22 PM , Rating: 2
Being able to edit your post if you made a mistake would be fine, but then it wouldn't prevent someone from editing their take on a subject, which kinda kills the whole rating system idea.

If you are really concerned about your grammar, I'm pretty sure the idea of the preview button is to proof read your message before posting it.

RE: Awesome
By wordsworm on 10/26/2007 9:42:24 PM , Rating: 2
Also, if someone says something stupid, they can't retract it. I think that's a good thing. I think people who have foot-in-mouth disease shouldn't be able to hide when they realize how stupid what they just said was. I'm not referring to the bad grammar guy... that's not a big deal. I mean saying something that is obviously factually wrong.

RE: Awesome
By mindless1 on 10/29/2007 12:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
Your line of thinking is exactly what's wrong with the present system. We should be concerned about removing factually incorrect content or allowing people to edit out what they no longer wish to convey.

Otherwise it just becomes a ridiculous waste of time while Joe Ego tries to correct what could have already been corrected by the original poster. It's an unnecessary distraction from the content and wastes everyone's time all because you want to make people look stupid? That IS stupid, and it will cause others to devalue your opinions.

There's a difference between hiding something and having a second thought. I'll bet you have a few thoughts you hide too, or show pause before expressing them. It means you are merely less bold than others about expressing an opinion. Even the smartest people on earth can't blurt out the first thing that comes to mind and always be right, but it happens on the 'net because it's impersonal, not all people are psychologically wired the same way, many don't try to attain some status from their net identity and just don't feel being called or implied stupid by a stranger, matters.

In summary, on the one hand we have your way which is to waste time and belittle people, then there is the other alternative which is the way it is with any serious work given peer review - that the document is edited first. I don't expect you to understand why claiming people are stupid or trying to belittle them is not constructive, but even if you feel they were stupid and or wrong, it would be better to allow them to correct their own mistake instead of placing that burden on others.

If we all went around the earth correcting supposed "stupid" people, where would it end? Let them clean up their own mess, including editing a post.

RE: Awesome
By darkpaw on 10/26/2007 2:53:27 PM , Rating: 5
This tax has nothing to do with people shopping online. Sales tax is a whole different can of worms.

This is specifically about access taxes (like the $8 or so in taxes on every cell phone line). I'd hate to have another $8 in taxes on my internet bill too.

RE: Awesome
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2007 3:04:31 PM , Rating: 2
Oh. My bad.

RE: Awesome
By iVTec on 10/26/2007 3:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
Even if they don't tax it now,there will come a day when the vast majority of the population will rely on internet for most of their everyday activities.And then,the way will be open for taxation,so let's enjoy it while it lasts...:P

RE: Awesome
By Spivonious on 10/26/2007 3:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, most states ask that you report your online sales so that you can pay your sales tax when filing your income tax return.

RE: Awesome
By Alexstarfire on 10/26/2007 7:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
Even if they do that doesn't mean you have to. It's like using the honor system. I personally think that if they do that then they HAVE to get rid of the fees and such that we pay to sell stuff on the internet, at least for places like eBay. I mean, I don't want to pay a fee to list my item, a fee for when it sells, a fee to transfer the money to my account, AND THEN pay income tax on it. That's just over the top. It's an either or thing, not both.

I prefer that they not tax the internet period. I'd also prefer if they didn't tax online income since most people already pay part of the income just to sell the stuff online.

RE: Awesome
By zombiexl on 10/26/2007 7:48:45 PM , Rating: 5
All of those fees are valid business expenses and would be subtracted from your income, just as the costs of the goods you sell would be subtracted from the selling price to detemine your bottom line income.

If you cant whip up a spreadsheet that does the calcs for you get quickbooks (starter edition is free) or something to track it. Honestly if you are selling enough that you would need to report it, you are running a business and should pay taxes.

RE: Awesome
By Ringold on 10/26/2007 8:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'd also prefer if they didn't tax online income since most people already pay part of the income just to sell the stuff online.

And brick and mortar is.. free? Rent is free? Labor to man the battle stations is free?

If anything places like Amazon, and especially online banks, have a big advantage.

In the long run, it's inevitable. Either we'll still have an income tax (boo!) and the IRS will devise some expensive method of tracking it or a national sales tax will be levied on it.

That said, I'd still root on any American's following in the legacy of moonshiners with an Internet Rebellion..

RE: Awesome
By drebo on 10/26/2007 9:44:59 PM , Rating: 2
If anything places like Amazon, and especially online banks, have a big advantage.

That may be, but the internet income tax debate is not about corporations and businesses that do business on the internet. They already have to pay taxes on all income they generate, whether from brick and mortar store sales or internet sales.

What the IRS wants is to make it so that companies like eBay and Amazon must report the sales for their users who sell things through them. Like Joe Blow, who works in a cubicle counting beans during the day, and at night maintains an eBay store selling thousands of dollars per year in baseball cards. Currently, Joe is supposed to report that income, but can't be penalized if he doesn't. The IRS wants to make it so that eBay has to report it for him (1099 forms, most likely).

Two completely different things here.

RE: Awesome
By Ringold on 10/27/2007 2:56:19 PM , Rating: 2
Aha, I misunderstood. Thank you.

RE: Awesome
By wordsworm on 10/26/2007 9:45:10 PM , Rating: 2
I wish I could've given you a plussy for that remark. The reason why the Internet is free right now is to give it a chance to grow and compete. Frankly, I think it's done well enough that they should consider laying some taxes down so that the 'brick and mortar' stores have an even playing field.

RE: Awesome
By Alexstarfire on 10/27/2007 12:57:04 AM , Rating: 2
Well let's see, a person on eBay (I'm assuming) has a house and an internet connection to pay for. I don't think just doing this out of a public library is much of an option.

how to calculate income from ebay?
By LumbergTech on 10/26/2007 4:48:20 PM , Rating: 2
How exactly does this work?

I mean, if i buy a video card on ebay, and then decide to upgrade a month later and sell it, is that income?

It sure as hell isnt a profit to me.

RE: how to calculate income from ebay?
By zombiexl on 10/26/2007 5:15:05 PM , Rating: 2
The tax is on profit. If you take a loss it would actually go against your income, which can be a good thing.

By Ringold on 10/26/2007 9:00:44 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, individuals can claim depreciation?

By FITCamaro on 10/26/2007 9:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
No. You have to make over a certain amount before you have to pay taxes on it. I think you have to pay taxes on any sales over $10,000 or so. You also have to pay taxes on sales if it accounts for over a certain percentage of your annual income.

So if you sell a lot of cheap items but you make $40,000 a year from the profits, thats obviously income and you have to pay income tax.

House, congress, and senate?
By Treckin on 10/26/2007 4:05:49 PM , Rating: 5
just so you know, the House and Senate are PART of Congress... They are not interchangeable terms. If you say Congress passes bleh bleh bleh, than that implies that both houses consented on the same piece of legislation and passed it on to the Executive Branch.
If the House agreed, than the Senate is the next to do so, and vise versa...

Please, fix the subtitle, it makes DT look rather uneducated.

RE: House, congress, and senate?
By Treckin on 10/26/2007 4:08:34 PM , Rating: 2
and the committee in which the House and Senate consolidate bills' language and content is called a Conference Committee.

As a note
By archermoo on 10/26/2007 2:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
Income from private sales on the internet has always been taxable. The Feds are just making it harder for people to incorrectly report their income.

RE: As a note
By GlassHouse69 on 10/29/2007 2:45:59 AM , Rating: 2
yes. this is 100% true. all money incomming must be reported no matter where it is from or why.

but um, screw that :D

We have state taxes in PA
By Acanthus on 10/26/2007 4:54:28 PM , Rating: 2

RE: We have state taxes in PA
By zombiexl on 10/26/2007 5:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
We have taxes on everything in PA, but technically the internet fees are supposed to be exempt. If your ISP is charging you, then you should contact them about fixing their mistake. Some clever "bundle" packages make it hard to dispute, but they shouldnt be charging you tax on internet.

The insane cell phone taxes in PA are what bother me. My last cell bill had over 30$ in PA taxes. You can thank Ed Rendell for most of the recent taxes here. I still cant believe he won re-election after he promised property tax relief and not only failed to deliver, but raised our wage tax by almost 10% and added all sorts of add-on taxes to various things.

By arswihart on 10/26/2007 5:38:46 PM , Rating: 3
Sadly, the internet is not entirely tax free. The IRS is pushing a proposal as part of this year's budget proposal to track user income made on sites such as eBay. They plan to use this information to adjust people's income accordingly.

This isn't internet tax, it's income tax.

Homer Simpson voice
By Polynikes on 10/29/2007 8:28:35 AM , Rating: 2
Whoo hoo!

taxation without representation
By Screwballl on 10/29/2007 2:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
So how much do they charge? A flat tax per connection or a per usage fee? This way businesses will pay hundreds per month in taxes and even online gamers may pay an additional $100 per month in taxes... Not my idea of a proper tax plan.
I would be willing to pay an extra $5 per month if that money went only towards communication expansion so that the entire nation could be covered by a lower cost reliable high speed network. This would lower our monthly cost to the ISP and we would all win... unfortunately its not that easy and I am sure this would fall into the hands of evil corporations that would make it into a per usage rate/tax and we'd all be screwed.

Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By SunAngel on 10/26/07, Rating: -1
RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2007 2:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you don't, but many people do.

Also, when you factor in the cost of the phone line required (in most places) to get DSL, that crappy $15 connection turns into a $30-35 crappy connection. I don't have a home phone, nor do I want one.

And the only way internet fees are going down is if the government takes it over. But people would complain too much about that. Me personally, I'd love it that federal money could be used to make the internet faster. I'd much rather tax money be going to improving the internet than going to some lazy piece of crap sitting at home on welfare.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By Micronite on 10/26/2007 2:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
I like your first couple of statements, but I must respectuflly disagree with your last.
I don't see how getting taxes raised $30 and getting free internet is helping me much. I already pay $30 and I have a choice of where to get my internet. And guess what? Bandwith has gone up and prices have gone down.

I don't see how the federal government taking over anything is a good solution.
Example: airport security...
At Chicago O'Hare International Airport, screeners missed about 60% of hidden bomb materials that were packed in everyday carry-ons — including toiletry kits, briefcases and CD players. San Francisco International Airport screeners, who work for a private company instead of the TSA, missed about 20% of the bombs, the report shows. The TSA ran about 70 tests at Los Angeles, 75 at Chicago and 145 at San Francisco.

Note that at LAX, they missed 75% of fake bombs.

Government may (disputably) make things cheaper to begin with, but it rarely makes things better.
Unbelieveably, I think Congress is taking the right approach to this.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By BansheeX on 10/26/2007 6:54:20 PM , Rating: 2
Somewhere out there, Ron Paul is smiling.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By Ringold on 10/26/2007 9:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
And somewhere beyond the ether, Adam Smith is saying "Some noobs still haven't figured this out?"

Great nations are never impoverished by private, though sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct. The whole, or almost the whole public revenue, is in most countries employed in maintaining unproductive hands.

- Adam Smith, Right Wing Extremist since 1776

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By johnbuk on 10/26/2007 3:00:45 PM , Rating: 2
Where do you live where you can get a land line for that cheap? Go tired of paying in excess of $60 a month just for a land line (about $10 of which was just in state and federal taxes) a couple of years ago. Perhaps there are more options now for land lines, but at the time where I live you only had one choice if you wanted a land line.

And I still only have one choice for High Speed internet- no DSL where I live- cable costing me $100/mth (which includes extended basic TV and internet). More than I'd like to pay, but what can you do if you're only choices are that or paying a land line and using dial up.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2007 3:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
Florida and South Carolina.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By kinnoch on 10/26/2007 3:28:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in California, and you can get a land line for cheaper than that. I have DSL and only pay $6-$8 for the land line. Its just active to support the dsl connection, 2 way calling isn't even enabled.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By Zoomer on 10/26/2007 7:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm paying 29.95 monthly to TW for 10M/384k. Upstate new york. Granted, it's only valid for one year, but in a year, they can either let me continue paying this rate or less, or I can jump to earthlink.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By BladeVenom on 10/26/2007 3:12:11 PM , Rating: 3
If you want the government to take over the internet, you could move to China. If you thought the Patriot act and the DMCA were bad... Enjoy blocked sites, surveillance, and wiretaps. Congress is already in bed with the RIAA and the MPAA. Might as well say goodbye to any form of filesharing, ftp, IRC, and newsgroups. It'll all be for the children of course.

On top of that you'll pay for times as much in taxes just to get worse service than you get now.

RE: Sorry Sen. Stevens, but ...
By BladeVenom on 10/26/2007 3:13:15 PM , Rating: 2
four times as much...

By djkrypplephite on 10/26/2007 3:30:37 PM , Rating: 2
True, I would also rather have it developing something than supporting lazy bastards, however if we let the internet fall into the government's hands, it would be a disaster, just like everything else governments try to take over.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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