California cities poised to impose ‘utility’ tax on apps, streaming, pay-per-view

California cities poised to impose ‘utility’ tax on apps, streaming, pay-per-view

[Ed. – The taxation aspect is bad enough.  But think about it.  Think how the city has to track what people are doing in order to impose such a tax.  Since it involves the collection of money for the government, there’s no way IT service companies will be able to keep their books on this private.  The vendor’s books on what consumers are doing will have to be as open as the books on buying gas by the gallon at a gas pump.  The difference with infosphere activities is that there is no such thing as cash-based anonymity for the customer.  One way or another, a trail is left.]

You just want to watch movies and TV shows where and when you want to, so you probably think a column about utility taxes has nothing to do with how you get your entertainment. Wrong. The city of Alameda, California, has put a measure, Measure K1, before its voters that would allow Alameda to tax pay-per-view and video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as if they were public utilities. Watsonville has a similar measure. Other California municipalities have passed similar language. They haven’t begun to levy utility taxes on these platforms, but figure as soon as one city decides to levy this tax, there will be a stampede across California. …

Michael Petricone of the Consumer Technology Association calls Measure K1 “an absurd expansion of the definition of utility.” Think of “the precedent this sets,” he noted, if cities can tax services that don’t utilize public easements or infrastructure as utilities.

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