Open Source Taxes

Fake News written by James Baughn on Sunday, November 15, 1998

from the taxing-the-noosphere dept.

OLYMPIA, WA -- The Washington State Department of Revenue has announced that free software is subject to sales taxes under new regulations. A prepared statement said, "When people buy software like Windows 98, they pay a sales tax. However, when people download software, like Linux, for free, the government collects no taxes. This is clearly an injustice. Under newly enacted regulations, free software and commercial software acquired in Washington will now be taxed equally starting in 1999."

The Department of Revenue cited an article in The Register that calculates the cost to develop Linux and associated software at over four billion US dollars. A spokesman said, "We estimate that about 10 million copies of Linux are in use. This means that a Linux CD-ROM is worth about $400. Sales of Linux CDs and downloads of Linux software in Washington will be taxed accordingly."

We consulted with our Official Humorix Lawyer, Mr. N. O. Morals of the Seattle law firm of Lowe & Morals. He said, "This is just stupid. Excuse me, I have to finish packing for my move to Oregon."

Humorix tried to get a response from the State of Washington on this matter, but to no avail. After calling the Revenue Department hotline, we were directed to the Vice Deputy to the Assistant Apprentice Associate Undersecretary of Taxpayer Affairs. We were then put on hold for an hour, only to find ourselves directed to the College Intern Associate Director of Media Relations, and then to the Interrim Secretary to the Assistant Manager (Probationary Fourth Class) of Job Title Assignments. To make a long story short, we were directed to ten different bureaucrats with incomprehensible titles. Each gave us equally incomprehensible answers and rhetoric. We finally gave up in desperation.

Richard M. Stallman has not been informed of the new tax regulation yet. The loud scream that will be heard around the world tommorrow will be RMS's after some poor soul has worked up the courage to deliver the bad news to him. Humorix will keep you posted as this situation unfolds.

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