Linked: Cities and States Find New Ways to Tax Streaming Services

There are, of course, a number of ways that States and Cities are trying to tax streaming services. Sales Tax is an obvious one, and frankly, it at least makes sense. This one though, in this case the example comes from Texas, makes no sense at all:

““Under state law, private use of the City’s right of way requires compensation for the use,” Hassan said. And since 2007, she said, “video streaming companies such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney have provided their video services to subscribing customers via broadband internet through wireline facilities located at least partially in the public right of way.”

But streaming services reject that argument.”

I reject that argument too, and here is why.

In order to be a customer of Netflix, Disney+, etc. you need broadband internet access, which runs through those wireline facilities. The ISP is already paying for using the right of way and passing that expense on to you. Any service, streaming video, audio, websites you visit, etc. is using the connection that has already been paid for and passed on to you. Taxing each individual service simply creates a situation where there is one connection using the infrastructure, being paid for over and over again and then being passed back to you over and over again.

It would be like paying for internet access, then signing up for Netflix and having to sign up for internet access again for your Netflix stream. Then another internet access for YouTube, and another, etc. That makes no sense. You pay for access once, and when you subscribe to various services they use the connection that you already paid for. There’s no reason for the government to charge an internet company that simply sends data to and from your connection for that same connection.

After all, if we accept their logic, where does it end? Does every website need to pay for using the infrastructure to send data to your computer? That’s a good way to kill the internet.

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