California politician proposes email tax to reduce spam, fund U.S. Postal Service

In an effort to reduce spam and to generate revenues for the United States Postal Service (USPS), a Berkeley, California councilman has proposed implementing a tax on email messages during a recent city council meeting this month.

Gordon Wozniak argued that the gigabit tax could prevent scammers from sending spam emails to thousands of recipients at a time. Although it may puzzle many, it has been proposed before by others, including Arthur Cordell during a Harvard Law School talk back all the way in 1997.

“There should be something like a bit tax. [It] could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year,” said Wozniak, reports the Los Angeles Times. “[If you consider] the terabits of data per second sent around the world, that’s billions, trillions of bits — even a small tax would generate substantial revenue.”

Under the administration of former President Bill Clinton, legislation in 1998 titled the Internet Tax Freedom Act bans many forms of Internet taxation. However, many proposals are expected to come to fruition because it expires next year.

“The idea is out there,” Wozniak added, who also suggested the concept of an Internet sales tax in order to help fund the USPS. “Things could change in the future, but it’d have to be changed on a federal level.”

More than a decade ago, the United Nations investigated the idea to see how such a tax could generate billions of dollars to fund a “global communications revolution.” Other proponents also say it could lead to the decline of spam messages that fill millions of email inboxes around the world.

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  1. Larry Poke says:

    I’m not quite clear on just who would pay this “little bitty tax”. I’m certain it won’t be paid by spammers because those email addresses are spoofed 98% of the time. I guess then it’s up to whomever hosts the email server to either collect the tax or at least report it to the IRS. What a bookkeeping nightmare that could turn out to be. How sad that these legislators have a perverse need to see our citizens only as a source of revenue. I hope this idiotic idea never sees the light of day. I am plagued with doubts however. Eventually the state and federal governments will have sucked every dime possible from out already picked-pockets. Good work Wozniak, you are a greedy, self-serving toad.

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