Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The iPod Tax

Governor Doyle may be trying to pass off his budget as a "no new taxes" plan, but hidden away in his budget is at least one sneaky provision -- to tax internet downloads.

Gov. Jim Doyle wants you to pay Wisconsin's 5% sales tax whenever you pay to download a song, book, movie or piece of art.

A little-noticed provision of the Democratic governor's proposed state budget would extend the sales tax to those Internet transactions, officials said Monday. There would be no Internet sales tax police, however, because compliance would be on the honor system.

It's a matter of equity, said state Revenue Secretary Mike Morgan, defending Doyle's goal of having consumers voluntarily pay the sales tax on "intangible" items they buy and download from the Internet. Buyers would have to pay the 5% sales tax if they purchased those items at any Wisconsin store.

It's not exactly clear how you purchase these "intangibles" at any Wisconsin store. I don't know of any "brick and mortar" download emporiums.

Rep. Scott Jensen called the Governor's plan the "iPod Tax" and vowed to "delete" it.

Interestingly, those who do the most downloading are likely to be young people. If Democrats like Gov. Doyle are really chasing after the youth vote, the last thing they'll want to do is alienate them by taxing one of their most cherished activities.

Besides, . . . Doyle's budget is already alienating them:

Some University of Wisconsin-Madison students, staging a hunger strike in the Capitol to protest tuition increases, said they should not be asked to pay the sales tax on any music, movie or other materials they download from the Internet. They noted that Doyle's budget would increase in-state undergraduate tuition next year by 5% to 7%.

I'm unable to listen to Charlie Sykes' radio program, but apparently he was discussing the issue today. A friend wrote to tell me that during the program, a caller complaining of the "iPod Tax" responded that it made him so mad he wanted to write a new School House Rock song about it.

You even had the nerve to tax my MP3.
I've got to tell you, Doyle, I really don't agree.

It's just a bill, . . . yes, it's only a bill . . .


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