Friday, September 25, 2009

Microsoft's missing community spirit

From Jeff Reifman:

"Over the past thirteen years, I estimate that Microsoft has avoided paying more than $707 million in B & O taxes on sales of its corporate software licenses (see Citizen Microsoft and Microsoft's $528 million Washington tax break ). Although the majority of its software development is performed in Washington State, Microsoft records its estimated $18 billion in licensing revenue per year through a corporate office in Reno, Nevada where there is no licensing tax."

and he adds that:

"If the Washington State Legislature hadn't bowed to industry lobbyists and cut the tax rate by more than 2/3, Microsoft would owe $2.08 billion."

this follows a story in the Seattle Times which says:

"Continued weakness in consumer spending will help drain another $238 million from the state's coffers and push the budget further into the red over the next two years, officials said Thursday."

You can see the problem. Tax competition is alive and well in the United States, rotting its institutions from the inside.

And some comments in 2004 from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer -- a man who likes to stick up for tax havens -- apparently without any sense of irony, that

"Taxpayers in the state have to come to grips with the notion that we need to invest in higher education."

As if this free-riding arrogance weren't breathtaking enough, there is this, from The Guardian:

Among the things that Microsoft identified as being needed to be a great community, according to Chris Weber, a Microsoft vice-president, in that interview, is

Community involvement. People want to work for a company that gives back to the local community, Weber said."

Corporate Responsibility: the debate hasn't even started yet.

We haven't yet been particularly activist in this area. We've had quite enough on our plate already.

Tax and CSR - the elephant in the room. Coming soon.


Blogger Physiocrat said...

People should avoid using proprietary software. Most of the time it is not necessary, open source/GNU software is more reliable, more secure, generally easier to use and will run on old computers which would otherwise end up as landfill.

The fact that M$ is a notorious tax avoider is just another reason to give up a bad habit.

The wealth of M$ is partly due to clever marketing of indifferent or poor products and partly due to the protection given to intellectual property laws through patents etc ie their revenue comes about through protection by the government they so dislike paying taxes towards.

Time to reform the laws on patents, methinks.

6:50 am  

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