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Online Taxes

By Rick Hendershot

Linknet Internet News Digest - December 22, 2005 - According to a 1992, U.S. Supreme Court ruling, states can only require sellers that have a physical presence or "nexus" in the same state as the consumer to collect sales taxes. The Supreme Court also ruled that while buyers essentially owe the tax on purchases, the mishmash of taxing jurisdictions is too complex and burdensome for online retailers to charge and try to collect sales taxes.

Imposing a tax requirement would have a serious negative impact on online retailers, so the court ruled that states would have to create a much more streamlined system across jurisdictions.

But now Congress is taking another look at the situation. The objective is to create a "level playing field" for all retailers - to take the tax advantage away from online sellers.

Two bills are currently before Congress. One of them proposes giving congressional approval to an agreement hammered out by various state governments. That agreement attempts to simplify more than 7,500 sales tax laws within the state and local governments involved. The second bill is similar, but with the addition of an exemption for smaller retailers based on total sales volumes.

Advocates claim the current regime is unfair, and will inevitably lead to higher taxes in other areas because local governments are not getting their share of tax revenue.

RIM weathers the patent battle, subscriptions continue growth

Confronted with the ongoing patent battle with NTP, RIM (Research in Motion) continues to perform well, in spite of recent reservations expressed by some investment experts.

RIM continues to perform strongly, reporting earnings of 71 cents a share on a 53% jump in sales. This exceeded previous estimates. RIM's total subscribers now stand at 4.3 million, after adding 645,000 in the past quarter.

RIM CEO Jim Balsillie recently announced that the company is close to completing a "workaround" that would allow them to carry on business even if a threatened injunction shuts their core service down in the U.S. The "workaround" announcement was greeted with considerable scepticism and was seen by some as a negotiating tactic.

Google goes after the enterprise with Google Search Appliance

The last year has seen Google attempting to expand its search expertise into the "enterprise" arena. The release of its Google Search Appliance (GSA) in 2004 was meant to help customers simplify search on their intranets and Web sites.

Google sees this as an opportunity to broaden its product offerings. According to Google Enterprise general manager Dave Girouard, "You can easily find all the information you want about the migration habits of peacocks, but finding a document or piece of information that resides within your own company has become more difficult."

Google is targeting small and medium-sized businesses with the release of its upgraded $5,000 appliance. More than 2,000 businesses worldwide use Google's integrated hardware and software search solution.

Bloggers can make ad revenue with video ads

Vive Network puts rich-media advertising on blogs. Ted Land, a Vive spokesperson said the company is primarily interested in blogs targeting entertainment, TV, sports and automobiles.

In order to carry Vive's content, a blog must meet quality and content standards and have sufficient traffic to make it worthwhile. When approved, bloggers can add the rich-media content by copying and pasting a few lines of code.

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