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Jul 22, 2009

Open Source for America - OSA

by J. Robert Burgoyne — last modified Jul 23, 2009 11:14 AM
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With the U.S. Federal Deficit at all-time record high levels, and many U.S. State budgets deeply in the red, the time is right for a broad push to deploy and use open-source software at all levels of government. Technology entrepreneur Tim O'Reilly recently founded an organization to bolster this effort: Open Source for America (OSA).

 

There aren't many valid reasons to exclude open-source software within government, other than it removes opportunity for certain software vendors.

There is no licensing fee to evaluate and use open-source software. Open-source software can usually be adapted to the specialized needs of the entity using the software. The talent pool of open-source developers is broad.

Certainly if we're going to try to reform the health care system in the U.S., open-source software should play an important role. This article makes a good case for open-source software in health care.

The government software I would like to see as open-source software is voting software. Make the USA's voting software open-source, allow everyone to review the code, and let it be managed in a responsible way. It's amazing that we had such big problems in the 2000 elections and yet even in 2009 we're basically using the same software systems, while a developing country like Brazil uses open-source voting software.

True Blade publishes this Business Blog and a Technology Blog. We assume the readers of our Technology Blog are familiar with and use open-source software, but from our interactions with the business community, there is a need to provide more information and education regarding the benefits of open-source software.

Read more about Open Source for America at:

http://www.opensourceforamerica.org/

Jul 21, 2009

New York City Increases Sales Tax on August 1, 2009

by J. Robert Burgoyne — last modified Jul 22, 2009 12:00 PM
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NYC is increasing the sales and use tax rate from 8.375% to 8.875% on August 1, 2009. Read below for an explanation and links to more information.

 

ny-sales-tax-increase-2009-07-22.jpgTrue Blade received a postcard from the State of New York Department of Taxation and Finance, announcing an increase in the NYC sales and use tax to 8.875%.

That's an increase of almost 6% from the prior rate of 8.375%.

The 8.375% rate is the sum of 3 different taxes:

Tax Name
Tax Rate
NY State Tax
4.000%
Metropolitan Commuter
Transportation District (MCTD*) Tax**
0.375%
New York City Local Tax
4.500%

Total Sales and Use Tax in NYC:

8.875%


According to the postcard, sales of clothing and footwear costing less than $110 are fully exempt from taxes. It's impressive in an anti-societal way that in 2009 the clothing manufacturers and resellers have sufficiently strong political connections to keep this exemption. There is no similar sales tax exemption for computer services such as Internet domain registrations or email service from a commercial vendor.

For more information go to www.nystax.gov and look for Important Notice N-09-12.

Click here for a larger version of the postcard scan.


* The MCTD consists of the five boroughs of New York City and the counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester.

** Earlier this year we received notice of a new, related tax, the:

Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax

This tax is an additional 0.34% of payroll expense for employers to pay for employees employed within the MCTD, once payroll expense exceeds $2,500 in any calendar quarter, effective March 1, 2009. It also applies to self-employment earnings of $10,000 or more for the tax year.

From the notice: "The Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax is a new tax imposed on certain employers and self-employed individuals engaging in business within the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD)".

New York City and State are a seriously large bureaucracy that finds ever new ways to tax, without any consideration for responsible fiscal planning. Thinking people should reflect on how this can be gradually turned around, one step at a time, so that the system stops working against our collective interests.