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Subject: [IP] more on IRS eyes Net phone taxes

  • From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
  • To: ip@v2.listbox.com
  • Date: Thu, 08 Jul 2004 16:25:40 -0400


Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <Bob2-0406@bobf.frankston.com>
Date: July 8, 2004 2:57:55 PM EDT
To: dave@farber.net, 'Ip' <ip@v2.listbox.com>
Cc: "David P. Reed" <dpreed@reed.com>, 'Dewayne Hendricks' 
<dewayne@warpspeed.com>
Subject: RE: [IP] more on IRS eyes Net phone taxes

I remember when I visited Jamaica last year at a meeting hosted by 
their regulatory commission but what struck me is the idea of presuming 
a need to regulate.

&nbsp;

The taxation imperative is closely related. I don't want to get into 
fundamental philosophical issues so am assuming that there is need for 
revenue and ignoring how the funds are earmarked.

&nbsp;

Just as the Telcos' real skill is in creating billable entities 
politics is the art of finding taxable entities that raise the least 
political controversy. Email escaped taxation because it is perceived 
as fundamentally different from postal mail. As long as people see 
telephony as a business rather than a technology and VoIP as just a 
minor variation it will be hard to explain why it should be exempt from 
taxes that have already been accepted whatever their origins.

&nbsp;

This is the same as the piracy framing that sets us to consider those 
who might add value as being thieves rather than creators themselves.

&nbsp;

This is why I’m glad that Skype exists and doesn’t look at all like 
traditional telephony. Their machine-machine communications is not new 
but it is well done and can be used instead of the telephony as long as 
both parties are at their PCs.

&nbsp;

As long as VoIP is perceived to be a trick to get past rules those who 
seek to tax it are doing their duty. They are representing their 
constituents in maintaining the status quo.

&nbsp;

It is our responsibility to educate them and/or their constituents. Or 
we can wait this one out until the PSTN fades away. Unfortunately it is 
cellular telephony that keeps the PSTN alive. Cellular is under 
extremely tight control. To get real change we have the bigger 
challenge of getting past the myth of spectrum allocation. Makes 
explaining VoIP seem easy.

&nbsp;

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