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Keller @ Large: Computer Services Tax A Foolish Decision

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Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Here’s the good news about Beacon Hill – for the most part, the moderate-to-liberal Democrats who run the show are well-meaning people who, however much you may disagree with their decisions, really do want to make our state a better place to live and work.

Now, the bad news – in part because this is a one-party state, sometimes these well-meaning people make very foolish decisions.

Exhibit A is the 16-day-old tax on computer and software services, passed into law as part of the transportation funding bill.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

A valid spending need? Check.

A thoughtful way of meeting it? Not so much.

From across the crucial sector of our economy that provides or relies on these types of services, they’re screaming bloody murder about the new tax, which after months of work turns out to be almost impossible to understand and administer.

For a taste of the fiasco, check out the “frequently-asked questions” page on the Department of Revenue website that is now up to 55 questions and counting.

Here’s a part of the answer to one of them:

“…the seller need not collect tax on the sale provided that the buyer gives the seller an MPU certificate, in which case the buyer will pay tax only on the Massachusetts portion of the use and must file a use tax return to report such tax. The ‘sourcing’ of the service to Massachusetts or to one or more other states should be the same as the sourcing of the sale of the prewritten software.”

Got that?

Despite warnings from business groups, Gov. Patrick and the Legislature developed and passed this tax hike without much of a clue about how it would work.

If we can’t do better than this in the future, fixed-up roads and bridges won’t be much help.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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