Wisconsin’s iPod tax proposal dies in 2005-07 budget

Last week, the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance rejected the idea of charging a five-percent sales tax on media downloaded from the Internet. Representative Scott Jensen (who’s already in hot water for illegal campaigning activities) spearheaded the charge against this tax. I already stated that I supported this tax, since I already report my online purchases on my tax forms. That won’t change with this action (call me what you will, but at least I can sleep at night). What really bothers me is that the “iPod tax” is considered a new tax. When I buy a CD at the Exclusive Company, I pay a sales tax on it. So why not also pay the same sales tax for the same product in a different (read nonexistent) package? Again, Representative Jensen is feeding us with a deception of Governor Doyle’s intent.

The Committee also rejected a proposal for Wisconsin to join in an effort with other states to streamline a sales tax collection mechanism. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Assembly Republicans objected to the plan, which would set national standards on taxable and tax-exempt items, because it would result in $19.3 million more in sales tax collections, Kaufert said.” Well if this state cannot get out of its budget deficit that Representative Kaufert’s political party’s former champion Governor (and former US Department of Health and Human Services secretary) got the state into in the first place, heaven forbid that it collects more tax revenue to aid in controlling the deficit. I had hoped to find more of a statement than that, but apparently that’s all I have to work with, and that doesn’t exactly make him a financial genius in my book. It’s an obvious case of those that can buy online don’t have to pay their fair share of taxes, and the poor get screwed because they don’t have the same opportunity… that only helps to show that Wisconsin’s sales tax practices are regressive.

Finally, the Joint Committee on Finance also managed to cut the landfill tipping fee from $3.00 per ton to $2.25. If passed, this would mean that other states that have not yet passed recycling laws (such as Illinois) would have no incentive to start seeking one now. Wisconsin citizens would then need to step up efforts to recycle more. We would also lose revenue; we’re essentially giving a price break to other states for bringing their trash into Wisconsin. Wisconsin already has recycling practices that have been increasingly expensive for the State and its citizens. When the law was passed, the intent was to develop markets to utilize the materials. The markets never materialized, new manufacturers never installed recycling equipment required by law, and other states continue to dump their trash in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online article: Committee rejects Doyle’s download tax