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Tax Internet Porn

Make money. Effect social policy. Accuse critics of deviancy.
  (+4, -14)(+4, -14)
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1. Vice taxes are profitable. Gambling has been permitted over the past 20 years chiefly because of the money it raises in taxes. Likewise alcohol and cigarettes. In some municipalities, alcohol is sold only through a city-owned store, to reap maximal benefit for the city.

2. Vice taxes can be used to effect social policy. Witness cigarette taxes. In the interest of helping people quit smoking for public health reasons, and reaping revenue while doing so, cigarettes are taxed more and more.

I propose that the feds tax internet porn. Here is how it would be done.

1. Registered volunteers would sweep the internet for webpages featuring prurient images. They would be paid a finders fee for every such new site reported to the IRS. Sites would be reviewed before being intered in the IRS list. These sites will be categorized as porn sites. Volunteers would be docked pay for nonprurient sites so submitted.

2. Each time a porn site is visited, the Internet Service Provider will be charged a penny by the feds. The ISP will pass this cost along to their clients.

3. Pay porn websites will register with the feds. The site will pay a tax based on visitation. Thus when the viewer has paid for the right to view, the site pays the tax, not the ISP.

Benefits: 1. No-one thinks it is good that minors can freely view porn, except maybe the minors. Blocking sites violates free speech. But by taxing the sites, it will be in the interest of ISP clients to limit what additional costs they incur because of the habits of the users of that ISP. ISP clients serving large groups of anonymous people (eg free wireless) might opt to block sites on the federal porn site list to save money. This will limit the ability of minors to view free porn on line.

2. Individuals who pay for their own internet access can go ahead and view sites on the government list and incur the penny charge each time. I imagine that the ISP will add the tax as a surcharge on that individuals bill. Parent will notice this surcharge and supervise their children or not, as they see fit.

3. Individuals using pay sites will pay the tax as part of the paid membership. People who want to view porn without the knowledge of their ISP provider will need to pay for the privilege of doing so. Pay sites will be responsible for ensuring that their members are not minors.

4. Lastly, the requirement that pay sites register with the feds to obtain the ability to pay the porn site tax on behalf of their customers will be another measure keeping these businesses above board. Such sites will be less underground and fly-by-night. More visible businesses (from a regulation perspective) will be less likely to engage in practices exploitative of their models.

5. Tax revenue!

An additional benefit that just occurred to me: US taxes from foreign viewers. Viewers in repressive countries might fear viewing free porn because their local ISP provider can crossreference the US federal porn site list with the habits of local viewers. Because the pay sites are not on the penny tax list, viewers in Iran might be more motivated to subscribe to pay porn sites registered with the US. This increased viewership benefits the registered pay sites and because they have more viewers, results in higher tax revenues.

I am vaguley aware that there are countries that are neither repressive nor the US. I am not sure what they might do with this. Probably serve as bases of operation for ISPs.

bungston, Feb 06 2009

Porn download tax proposed for New York http://www.nydailyn...l_awaits_clima.html
[Spacecoyote, Feb 17 2009]

[link]






       Clarification - when you write "repressive countries", does that or doesn't that include the US?   

       I'd like to discuss the contents of my data stream with my ISP no more than I'd like to discuss the contents of messages to me with my letter carrier. (Beyond, perhaps, their weight and unwieldy shape.)   

       It always surprises me to meet people who would like more involvement of the government in their sexuality.
jutta, Feb 06 2009
  

       Prurient:   

       lubricious: characterized by lust; "eluding the lubricious embraces of her employer"; "her sensuous grace roused his lustful nature" Uneasy with desire; itching; especially, having a lascivious anxiety or propensity; lustful; Arousing or appealing to sexual desire; Sick, morbid - pruriency - prurience: feeling morbid sexual desire or a propensity to lewdness - characterized by a preoccupation with or unwholesome interest in sexual matters   

       Sounds like there's a lot of room for judgement in there. One man's technical specification is another man's geek porn. Diaper ads are child porn by common definition.
normzone, Feb 06 2009
  

       Let me just finish some downloading (of every currently available site)... then I'll be happy to bun this.
phundug, Feb 06 2009
  

       Two things against this. One is that some people, myself included, are into stuff which is so rare that this would make no difference, i.e. porn in the sense of sexually arousing stuff is in the mind of the beholder. The other is, when it's that rare, there's no profit in it and it's provided entirely by people doing it for fun.
nineteenthly, Feb 06 2009
  

       This would require and legitimize monitoring of people's internet traffic, which is IMHO 1.) Easily circumvented. and 2.) bad.
Spacecoyote, Feb 06 2009
  

       That too. Having said that, i think doing anything on the internet is like writing it in luminous letters down Nelson's Column and attaching a flashing neon arrow to the top.
nineteenthly, Feb 06 2009
  

       It's more like a stock ticker ticking out on a infinitely long, narrow strip of paper into a garbage heap.
Spacecoyote, Feb 06 2009
  

       //This would require and legitimize monitoring of people's internet traffic//
Yeah and those pesky Customs' people who want to search my vehicle when I cross over a border...
FlyingToaster, Feb 06 2009
  

       //I am vaguley aware that there are countries that are neither repressive nor the US//   

       How gracious of you.
Custardguts, Feb 08 2009
  

       I must admit this would greatly help the economy...


  

         

       of every country that doesn't do it and can host a co-lo space. Every single server would be moved overseas within a day, and good luck collecting your tax. That, however, would be about the only effect.
MechE, Feb 08 2009
  

       In most jurisdictions, anyone operating a business is already subject to tax. The easiest way to dodge this is to accept cash and not declare it to the tax man - due to practicalities, that just can't be done on the internet - so if any of these organisations are generating an income, they already fall under the auspices of the usual laws and regulations in effect - or don't they?
zen_tom, Feb 12 2009
  

       Noooooooooooooooooooo !!!!   

       Don't tax my lovely pr0n sites! Fishbone!
Bad Jim, Feb 12 2009
  

       I'M ALREADY GONNA GET CANCER! NOW YOU WANT TO TAX ME TO??????
jhomrighaus, Feb 12 2009
  

       I'm really tired of being used as the country's ATM machine because I smoke cigarettes, so this whole notion just catches me in a bad mood. I don't even care if it's a good idea.   

       I think we oughtta increase the tax on some wholesome crap for a change. Like herbal tea, or decaffeinated coffee, or that awful grass they cut right in front of you and make juice out of. Also I think congresspeople should have to pay a pain-in- the-ass tax for every amendment they add to a bill, high-school girls should be taxed for saying 'OMG' and 'like', and all females should be taxed for ooohing at kittens, at a rate proportional to the pitch of their voice.   

       Gawd, I can't wait until I'm an old fart. I plan to bitch about *everything*. Better start practicing now, eh?
colorclocks, Feb 13 2009
  

       I can't really add much to what colorclocks said except to say that the kitten tax shouldn't just be limited to women and should be amended to include ooohing at pictures of babies as well.
DrBob, Feb 13 2009
  

       "2. Each time a porn site is visited, the Internet Service Provider will be charged a penny by the feds. The ISP will pass this cost along to their clients."   

       I work for a small, independently owned ISP. With all due respect, take this idea and shove it up your arse.   

       jutta:I'd like to discuss the contents of my data stream with my ISP no more than I'd like to discuss the contents of messages to me with my letter carrier.   

       As an ISP, I don't want to discuss the contents of your data stream with you, ever. As far as we're concerned it's just 0's and 1's, there's a mutual protection in me not knowing what you're doing. And we like it that way. Anything that changes that relationship is not appreciated.
Noexit, Feb 13 2009
  

       Although the morality overlay on this idea makes it questionable, I do think it makes good sense to tax electronic interactions. This has been doable for a long time as regards financial cash transfers etc - the movement of money via electronic means is transparent and quantifiable, and there in no reason that each movement should not generate some tax revenue. One can be agnostic as to the reason for the movement of money but still dip the waterwheel in to generate revenue.   

       Likewise those 0s and 1s. If knowledge of the data stream is repulsive, simply tax the flow of data. I think the net is well enough established now that it can stand to contribute a little to the public till.   

       It would still be the ISP who would levy this tax. Noexit, you will note I did clean this idea off for you a little bit after withdrawing it from my arse. A little bit.
bungston, Feb 13 2009
  

       //I do think it makes good sense to tax electronic interactions//   

       They are already be generating sales tax. Why an extra tax that violates the privacy of every american for maybe a few hundred million in tax revenue? Why not tax the porn companies and leave their visitors alone? Foreign sites would have to comply because there are international treaties regarding the import/export of goods.
Bad Jim, Feb 13 2009
  

       There is plenty of precedent for luxury taxes. One can make the case that these are more fair than sales taxes on food or income taxes, both of which are hard to avoid. There is plenty of precedent for taxes/fees on people who use conveniences - for example toll roads, airport rental cars, telephone lines.   

       An internet porn tax would combine the luxury tax with the convenience tax, without butting up against the interests who do not want sales taxes enforced on internet sales of goods.
bungston, Feb 13 2009
  

       Taxes are a rather unimaginative, unpopular, and often irresponsible way of funding. And not an idea.
Spacecoyote, Feb 13 2009
  

       //There is plenty of precedent for luxury taxes etc//   

       But luxury taxes are not usually so invasive. You just pay a little more for your liquor. You don't have to tell the government what you are buying.   

       //An internet porn tax would combine the luxury tax with the convenience tax, without butting up against the interests who do not want sales taxes enforced on internet sales of goods.//   

       If the cost to the consumers is the same, then it makes little difference to the pornographers who ends up with the bill. Their profits will be the same whether they pay or the consumer pays.
Bad Jim, Feb 14 2009
  

       //I think the net is well enough established now that it can stand to contribute a little to the public till//

It already does. Not only do business transactions get taxed in the normal way, as zen_tom has pointed out, but both your ISP & your porn provider (assuming that they are legally registered and making a profit) also pay tax on the revenue they generate from your monthly subscription. How many more taxes do you want?

Personally I'd rather the government balanced it's books by stopping handing over my tax money to fat bankers and arms dealers and also stopped spending it on ineffective & pointless security measures or badly thought out and even worse managed IT projects.
DrBob, Feb 16 2009
  

       I thought this idea was going to suggest tax-themed internet porn ("Oooh, I'm afraid you're going to have to submit that in triplicate, sir..").
hippo, Feb 16 2009
  

       No one has said it yet so I will   

       Down with Pole Tax!
miasere, Feb 17 2009
  
      
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