In these days of over-spending, governments are always on the lookout for new sources of revenue. Of course a straight out tax hike would be unthinkable. That would be too obvious, and too honest. Governments at all levels are constantly
on the lookout for new taxes and fees that the poor abused taxpayer will not see on their pay stub every week.
The internet is a potential source of new income that is largely invisible. So far there have been two main attacks on it, net neutrality and sales tax collection.
The so-called net neutrality scheme put forth by the FCC is supposed to insure net neutrality, whatever that means. It seems the new rules which were adopted last December mean anything the regulators want. In fact there seems to
be general disagreement about what information is fair game and what is not. No one can say what type of information capture is allowable and what isn’t. You can be sure that if the law is open to interpretation the writers of rules will
err on the side of bigger and more intrusive government, including fishing expeditions of various sorts.
While there are no immediate plans to extract money from the internet using net neutrality, the camel’s nose is under the tent. It is only a matter of time before some bureaucrat will figure a need and a way to put the squeeze on
Collecting sales taxes from on line transactions is another bright idea being bandied about. In fact California, always strapped for cash to fund its socialist utopia, has imposed such a tax. What happened when sales tax collection on internet sales was imposed? For a starter, Amazon.com pulled out of the state, leaving its California partners without an outlet for their goods. How much this loss of business has cost that state has not been computed so far, and an ballot initiative aimed at repealing the law is on the ballot in the next election.
Proving the old saw that people who repeat things over and over expecting different outcomes are insane, Illinois is trying to legislate its own internet tax collection law. They did not learn a thing from the California experience.
It appears that on line gambling might be next in line. Currently it is illegal, but it is an unenforceable law. Anyone who wants to gamble on line can do so easily. In the current environment, it is only a matter of time before gambling on line is made legal and taxed somehow.
It is a sure guarantee that other states will try to collect sales taxes a net neutrality will uncover unheard of ways to impose taxes or fees on the net. And there will be previously undiscovered places from which to squeeze money. Of
course, the poor tax payer is always the ultimate payer. Welcome to the brave new world of electronic communications where the golden goose is slowly being killed.