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History[ edit ] Inthe United States federal government decided to limit taxation of Internet activity for a period of time. The Internet Tax Freedom Act ITFA prohibits taxes on Internet access, which is defined as a service that allows users access to content, information, email or video editing services rates massachusetts services offered over the Internet and may include access to proprietary content, information, and other services as part of a package offered to customers.
The Act has exceptions for taxes levied before the statute was written and for sales taxes on online purchases of physical goods. The statute has been amended three times since its enactment to extend this prohibition. The first amendment solely extended the Act's duration.
The second extended it again and clarified the definition of Internet access as including certain telecommunication services, as well as reorganizing sections within the Act. The third amendment again extended the prohibition but narrowed the definition of Internet access to "not include voice, audio or video programming, or other products and services.
InAnna Eshoo, Congresswoman from California's 14th District which includes most of Silicon Valleyintroduced a bill to make the Act permanent in its most recent permutation.
However, this bill died in committee. The states using their original tax code may fall within the grandfather clause of the ITFA, but there has been no litigation to clarify this or other aspects of the Act.
One of the few cases brought under the ITFA involved Community Telecable of Seattle suing the city of Seattle in Washington state court, where Telecable claimed it should not have to pay a telephone utility tax because it was an Internet access provider under the ITFA.
These laws may be preempted because the ITFA bars taxes on Internet access, and multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. Courts have yet to clarify whether the existing laws compound taxes or are discriminatory. Although, it is likely that these laws can survive scrutiny under the ITFA because they can be interpreted to only tax services that fit within the exception to Internet access described in the statute and to be the only taxes on these digital products.
On the other hand, there may be problems with these taxes because they may cover products and services dealing with homepages, email, personal storage, or video clips.
Without litigation, it may be difficult to distinguish the difference between the definitions of content given by the ITFA, such as between a video clip and video programming.
These laws may also run into trouble if they tax a download that is already taxed by another state, because multiple taxes are defined as taxing property that has been taxed once before by another state or political subdivision.
North DakotaU. The dormant commerce clause could also apply to any efforts to tax downloads. Since most downloads are from companies that are centralized in a small number of states, it is likely that there will not be many states with a substantial nexus to download providers.
At present, no litigation has arisen to determine what will be defined as a proper nexus for a distributor of digital content within a state. It is possible that a state would argue that servers are enough of a nexus to tax the content passing through, although the Supreme Court has already ruled that communication by common carrier is not enough to form a substantial nexus.
States relying on general tax laws to govern digital goods States that have enacted laws specifically addressing digital goods taxation States that expressly do not tax digital goods Status not known Other countries States initially were slow to enact taxes on downloads, but with recent downturns in tax revenue caused by consumers purchasing more digital downloads, many states have sought ways to impose taxes on purely digital transactions.
There are multiple ways that downloads are taxed. Other states enacted laws specifically aimed at digital downloads.
States relying on general tax laws to govern digital goods[ edit ] Some states presume that downloads are automatically covered by their existing tax statutes based on the common law definition of tangible personal property, which is anything that holds value on its own that is not real property.
Alabama  Arizona — Uses definition of tangible personal property to be anything that can be discerned by human perception, which includes digital goods transmitted electronically.
Indiana — Interprets tangible personal property as anything that can be perceived by the senses, including electricity, water, gas and steam. Yet, the taxes do not reach as far as purchasing virtual points for an online game because the points themselves cannot be "perceived.
Article of Louisiana's Civil Code defines corporeal movable property as things that physically exist and normally move or can be moved from one place to another, which is then illustrated by examples, including digital or electronic products such as audio and video downloads. States that have enacted laws specifically addressing digital goods taxation[ edit ] The remaining states that tax downloads have specific statutes that define exactly what is to be taxed and what is not.
The similarity in these taxes is that they are based on a sales-type scheme, where each download or group of downloads is taxed like a purchase in physical space.
Colorado - As of July 1,software is only taxable if it is prepackaged for sale, is governed by a license agreement, and is delivered in a tangible medium.
Other digital products are then defined as canned software. Further, the state taxes digital codes that provide the purchaser with the right to obtain one or more of these products delivered electronically. This tax applies solely to the digital realm, with many exceptions presumably to avoid preemption by the Internet Tax Freedom Act.
However, the tax statute specifically disclaims sales of digital content and certain Internet related services.La Mirage Studio, Photography & Video Production - Film Editing Services - E-mail - Erie, Pennsylania Film Editing Services.
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