With Internet commerce escalating at warp speed, states and localities are eyeing e-transactions as possible sources of tax revenue--not good news for event planners. If you're selling tapes of seminar sessions, exhibit booth space, or other meeting-related products and services over the Internet, you don't want to be clobbered with an Internet sales tax. But that's exactly what might have happened without the Internet Tax Freedom Act, say members of the Cybertax Coalition, a group of associations and corporations that lobbied for the bill.
Passed by the House of Representatives in June, the Act imposes a limited moratorium on local or state taxation of Internet commerce, and calls for the government, in conjunction with consumer and business groups, to study Internet commerce and submit taxation policy recommendations to the President.
"This is a proactive effort by our association and the Cybertax Coalition," says Bruce N. Hahn, CAE, director of public policy, Computing Technology Industry Association, Arlington, Va. And that effort came none too soon, Hahn says. A handful of states have already imposed taxes for Internet service provider subscriptions and other transactions. "Any taxable event is at risk," Hahn stresses. "If you use a conference or, virtual or otherwise, to sell or purchase, you are at risk."
The fight is not yet won, he adds. Although the bill has President Clinton's support, according to Inroads, the American Society of Association Executives government affairs newsletter, it still has to pass the Senate. A version of the bill has been cleared by the Senate Commerce Committee. At press time, the coalition was trying to get the bill before the full Senate in September.
For more information, call Hahn at (703) 536-0002, visit the CTIA's Web site at www.comptia.org, or e-mail email@example.com. You can view the Act's text by visiting www.house.gov and searching for H.R. 1054.
Stay alive until 2001. There'll be a hell of a spike then." So predicts Rob Enderle, director of desktop and mobile technologies for the oft-quoted technology analyst firm Giga Information Group, Norwell, Mass. Speaking on "Desktop Computing: Today and Tomorrow," Enderle shared his expertise at Summit '98, the annual meeting of the Computer EventAssociation, in July at the Westin Resort Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Enderle believes Year 2000 issues will have a "huge impact on the willingness to buy" computer hardware and software over the next couple of years, as IT resources get diverted to solving systems problems. But in the face of a near-term market downturn, Enderle challenged the CEMA audience. "This is when marketing earns its living," he said. "You have to increase share against your competitors. Market share is all you've got. And start planning for big moves coming up."
Looking beyond the turn of the century,Enderle predicts a major power shift from computer hardware manufacturers to service providers, an evolution not unlike that which the telephony market has gone through. He also expects computers to evolve rapidly as appliances, that is, machines that you can simply bring home, plug in, and use. Other trends: the computer as a companion rather than a tool, a move from buying computers to buying service agreements, and wireless networks.
For more on CEMA Summit '98, turn to the Chat Room, page 88.