The Great Windows Sales Tax Refund
Fake News written by on Thursday, February 27, 2003
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA -- The Windows End-Luser License Agreement states quite clearly, "The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is licensed, not sold." If this is true, however, then how come computer stores charge sales tax on software purchases?
That was the question posed by the group of about 100 protestors who protested in front of the North Dakota state capitol building earlier this week -- that is, until they realized the state's capital is in Bismarck, not Fargo.
"We must protest this outrage," said an outraged protestor. "We don't even get the privilege of owning our software and yet the government levies sales taxes on it. Taxation without ownership is far worse than taxation without representation!"
A Microsoft spokesperson responded by saying that when customers purchase software at a store, they indeed do own it -- the cardboard box and manual, plus the obligatory stack of "REGISTER YOUR SOFTWARE NOW OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES!" warnings.
"Some of our customers have said that our promotional literature makes excellent fire kindling or birdcage liner," the Microserf said. "You can do whatever you like with that paper -- you own it. And the CDs? They make excellent beverage coasters."
The protestors didn't like that answer one bit. "I don't buy shrinkwrapped software for the manuals -- hell, 95% of software doesn't even come with manuals anymore. They expect you to read the 1000 page manuals with a PDF viewer in which the text font is smaller than Flyspeck-3."
"We demand refunds for all of the sales taxes that have been illegally collected on software that was for rent, not sale," one protestor bellowed in front of the statehouse when the group finally arrived in Bismarck. "We're sick of this hypocrisy -- Microsoft should no longer be able to claim that they sell software while also claiming that customers don't own it and don't have any rights."
Unfortunately, the protests will likely do more harm than good. Several legislators took notice, with one saying, "What? We have the power to impose sale taxes on items that aren't sold? Cool! We could use this power to prop up our state budget... And let's not forget that CD-ROMs contain trace amounts of gold... we should start charging luxury taxes to anybody who possesses a CD!"
The idiot that invented the idea of licensing software instead of selling it was unavailable for comment at press time.