The idea that you'll ever get taxed for using the Internet may never have occurred to you, although the passing of such a bill isn't the stuff of bad dreams. At the moment, several key members of Congress are diligently fighting to keep this practice tax-free, but the possibility always looms. The thing is, there are any number of reasons that it shouldn't even exist as an issue.
People Pay Enough Taxes
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Although this might sound trite, the truth of the matter is that people pay enough taxes. Practically everything gets taxed to varying degrees, unless you live in one of the few states that don't ask for sales tax.
Most people pay for everything they buy and everything they make, and many end up owing Uncle Sam far more than they can afford. In an age where an increasing number of people are self-employed and working from home, a growing part of the population can barely afford the taxes they do owe. Tax something so essential, and where will they be?
How Can You Calculate It?
Forgetting even the unfairness of getting taxed for using the Internet, how would these taxes get calculated? What are the limits of tax regulation on Internet usage? You may surf more than your neighbor, while your children spend even more time on the Internet. Do you get charged based on your bandwidth, the number of sites you visit, the amount of emails you send? If the hypothetical questions are this confusing, think about putting it into practice.
How Do You Get Taxed?
There are even more considerations, however. How can you get taxed if you're using free Wi-Fi? Does that mean that your local library or Starbucks will ultimately get taxed for your Internet usage? What about the charming contingent of the population who enjoys stealing connectivity from their neighbors' wireless Internet hotspots?
Sales Are Already Taxed
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For the most part, the items you buy on the Internet are already taxed. That's fair enough; you're taxed through your service provider and you're taxed for any items you purchase. Isn't that enough? Even tax professionals such as Mark Weinberger, an expert who works with The Tax Council, understands that nothing good can come of taxing Internet usage — unless you consider a potential uprising something good. Understandably, most people don't.
Internet Rates Are Expensive Enough
How much do you pay for your Internet? Get a fiber-optics connection, and you're paying a pretty penny. Even if you have a bare-bones service with just enough bandwidth for one person, Internet rates are already expensive, and the speed you get isn't even worth what you pay. In fact, the United States has a drastically low rank for broadband. The idea of basically paying for Internet twice is upsetting to most people, and it's just one of many reasons that the entire idea seems unfair.
Internet Is Essential
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The Internet is essential. Think about how many people you know who don't use it for something. Can you count them on one hand? Even if the idea of taxing bandwidth or website visitation made any sense, you have to realize that you'd get taxed for every email you send as well.
Considering how many people stay in touch with family, friends, and colleagues through email, it really is a necessity. Besides that, it's just as important for students, researchers, and professionals to do the things they have to do. It's not all fun and Facebook.
It's a Human Right
If you think saying that the Internet is a human right sounds like an exaggeration, if not outright hyperbole, take it to the United Nations. For every pointless cat meme or time-wasting game, there are important political discussions, news stories shared, huge sums raised for crucial causes, and entire lives changed.
Besides that, the Internet in and of itself is largely based around freedom of thoughts, idea, and even speech. While some people choose to exercise those rights in deplorable ways, the majority use the Internet for good. Would that stay true with taxed usage?
Taxing Could Lead to Stagnation
The Internet is also based around growth. It doesn't just grow every year or every month, it grows by the day, even the hour. There are new ideas, new websites, new opinions, petitions, games, videos, and causes born all the time. Taxing the Internet would surely stagnate the kind of all-encompassing creativity that allows so many people to realize their potential.
Besides being expensive and outrageously restrictive, taxing the Internet would make it impossible for some people to enjoy. Would you log on if you had to pay taxes?