Virtually Taxed

Nobody ever explained it to me.  DVDs, with no moving parts, can still go bad.  Having amassed a library of them over the years, and storing them the recommended way, I nevertheless come across several that have “damaged” areas—like a skip in a record—that confuses readers to the point that the movie simply isn’t enjoyable to watch.  The other day my wife had a hankering to watch one of those movies.  I checked our two streaming services and it was only available for rent, or “purchase.”  I still can’t wrap my head around buying something that doesn’t exist with money that’s purely electronic.  And people don’t believe in the spiritual world!  Well, I bit the bullet and clicked to “buy” the movie—perpetual access is what we call it in the biz.  We watched and all was well with the world.

The next day when I went to file away the receipt, which came in the form of an email, I noticed that we’d been virtually taxed for this virtual purchase.  It never occurred to me before that when you’re buying electrons configured in a certain way, that this is a taxable event.  And your tax is based on the state in which you live.  If you’re in a place with no state tax—New Hampshire, I’m looking at you—these electronic purchases will save you some money.  The funny thing about this is the system works only because we believe in it.  The skeptic who says “What, exactly, did I just purchase?” raises a valid question.  Despite current trends, I don’t mind a bit of clutter.  I can always find the physical object I’m looking for.  It’s the electronic ones that give me trouble.

Our world is becoming less and less substantial.  More and more virtual.  Some of us prefer the corporeal sensations of the hunter-gatherer world.  Feet on actual ground, hands on actual book.  Or DVD.  Whatever.  The cloud, with its taxes, strikes me as distinctly odd.  Politicians can virtually live in a state—Dr. Oz wasn’t, and isn’t, a resident of Pennsylvania—so can I virtually move to New Hampshire and not pay taxes on my electronic purchases?  I’ve always wanted to live in New England, but my jobs have never allowed it.  There’s something about this physical universe, and house prices being what they are I can’t see a move anytime soon.  To deal with this reality I guess I’ll stay where I’m physically located and just watch a movie.

Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

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