Print 52 comment(s) - last by Screwballl.. on Oct 29 at 2:53 PM

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.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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