Apple's not the only company to save billions in taxes through Nevada as The New York Times reported yesterday. Here's how Microsoft's saved $4.37 billion in tax payments to Washington State and how it's led indirectly to $4 billion in K-12 and Higher Education cuts since 2008. 18% of University of Washington freshman are now foreigners (because they pay more) up from 2% six years ago. Washington State ranks 47th nationally in 18-24 yo college enrollment and 48th in K-12 class size. This hasn't stopped the architect of the company's Nevada tax dodge from writing in The Seattle Times: 'it's [Washington] state's paramount duty to provide for the public education of all children. Unfortunately, steady declines in public resources now threaten our ability to live up to that commitment.' Yes, indeed.
I am lead organizer behind Seattle Initiative Measure 103 http://www.i103.org which will end corporate personhood in Seattle and elevate the rights of residents above corporate rights.
Three things you can do right now:
2) Collect petition signatures from your friends and family
3) RSVP for our Kickoff Party March 29th in the University District
What Measure 103 will do in Seattle:
Our efforts in Seattle are part of an emerging statewide and national movement to place peoples' rights above corporate rights.
My open letter to the Seattle City Council about Comcast's 50% price hikes on broadband Internet access:
In the fall of 2010, I wrote of my concerns with Comcast's billing policies in TechFlash. At the time, I expressed frustration that in order to get the market rate with Comcast, I had to call every six months, threaten to cancel and only then would they offer the market price for broadband.
This week, I learned that Comcast has discontinued its $42 rate for 15 mbps broadband. They now insist on charging me $62.95 for this same level of service. They tell me that I can receive a much lower performance of 3 mbps at the old $42 rate if I wish. Or, they tell me that I can bundle services such as cable television to receive the best pricing.
Comcast is a monopoly cable technology broadband provider to my home ... so it's quite frustrating to have to call the company every six months for the market rate and now to have a 50% price increase in what I've been paying for many years.
Qwest/CenturyLink can only provide 7 mbps DSL to my home. I plan to sign up with them and terminate my Comcast account. However, the 7mbps performance does not allow for the same level of performance that cable provides e.g. higher quality streaming video, uploading large files, etc.
I know that there are a myriad of federal regulations governing what the council can do to control rates and private companies such as Comcast and Qwest. However, I do believe the council has failed Seattle customers in not flexing its muscle more aggressively in our long term agreements that grant these companies rights of way to our neighborhoods and homes. And, now, I and many other Seattleites are forced to pay more or get less.
I thought it would be useful to give you an update on one Seattle resident's experience - which I expect is about to become more commonplace for other customers.
I hope that you will reconsider more aggressively regulating these companies. Affordable broadband internet access is a keystone of Seattle's future.
Update: In addition to BoingBoing, the story has made it to NBC Miami, Business Insider and two popular frequent flyer forums (Milepoint, FlyerTalk). Two Seattle radio stations also called for interviews.
On Tuesday at 2:40 pm, I tweeted about this gaffe by an Alaska Airlines stewardess threatening passengers that they wouldn't be allowed off the plane if a missing digiplayer wasn't returned:
Alaska didn't respond to the tweet. About 18 hours later, BoingBoing published the post for its hundreds of thousands of readers. Alaska still hasn't responded.
Here's my penultimate summary of how Governor Gregoire, the legislature, the courts and The Seattle Times have enabled Microsoft's hypocritical stance on education and tax dodging to damage our budget and our educational system ... new updates including audio clip of Microsoft's Brad Smith acknowledging the Nevada tax dodge:
There are problems today with MyDomain.com ... it seems that not only is their site affected but also domains with A records without prefixes. Not so reassuring.
This is a bit of a work in progress ... but check out The Complete Mac, which provides an easily browsable summary of all the products and accessories I recommend for Mac, iPhone and iPad users. Enjoy!
Beginning with the publication of Citizen Microsoft in Seattle Weekly in 2004, I've reported that Microsoft used its Nevada office to avoid payment of the state's Royalty Tax from 1998 - 2010. I've blogged that the amount of the tax dodge has likely exceeded $1.07 billion (not including penalties).
Last week, after John Burbank, Executive Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, wrote an editorial condemning the company's hypocritical record of tax dodging while advocating for more education funding, Jeffrey Reading, Microsoft's Senior PR Manager wrote The Herald to refute the claims Burbank made (Burbank based his article on my reporting):
"Mr. Burbank does not include sourcing to support his claims regarding Microsoft’s Nevada licensing, which is part of a very complicated piece of state tax law. Much of the information regarding this issue is misinformation primarily spread by a blogger, and no state official has ever provided any factual data supporting his claims."
I stand behind my research and all of my claims. If Microsoft wishes to prove that it paid Washington State Royalty Taxes during the years 1998 - 2010, it should disclose its worldwide licensing revenue and its Royalty Tax payments for this time period. It would be quite simple for the company to provide these two sets of numbers and would put the issue to rest once and for all (as I have done here).