A California official is bringing new life to the argument that the Internet -- including emails -- is an untapped revenue resource that should be taxed to help local economies.
Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak brought up taxing emails during a recent council meeting. He suggested the money collected, which would be part of a wider-reaching Internet tax, could be used in Berkeley's case to save the local post office.
"There should be something like a bit tax," he said during the March 5 meeting. "I mean, a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year."
Plus, he said, there should be a "very tiny tax on email."
This idea goes beyond already-controversial proposals to tax e-commerce -- like buying used books on Amazon. This would be a tax on data.
Wozniak said the response to the idea has been varied.
"Most people don't like the idea of taxing the Internet," he acknowledged. "There are a number of people who say it's a good idea, but some are saying it's impractical and there's no way to do it."
Amid concerns that the government could one day turn to the Internet for a new-age funding stream, Congress in 1998 passed a law called the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which bans Internet taxation.
That law is set to expire next November.more