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A science tax on information?

A science tax on information?

When it came to funding "targeted programs" like AIDS andthe Strategic Defense Initiative for fiscal year 1987, "Congress was very good," says Philip Speser, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition for Science and Technology (NCST). However, he points out, "across the board, there was a 4.2 percent cut from the administration's request for general science." And no windfall materialized to boost the research community's ailing infrastructure, including facilities.

So NCST, the only registered lobby of scientists for science,announced last week that it has crafted a plan to generate additional revenues for future science budgets: a tax of 0.1 percent on the sale of printed or electronic information. Speser says, "The idea has generated considerable interest on Capitol Hill, and formal legislation is being prepared."

Commerce Department statistics suggest, he says, that the"information industry" has gross revenues of $94.15 billion annually.

Basedon those figures, the tax NCST is proposing would generate $94 million a year: $28.9 million from the sale of newspapers, $15.7 million from periodicals, $11.2 million from books, $22 million from computer software, $4.5 million from video-cassettes and $9.5 million from cable television.

Speser says one-quarter would go to the NAtional Endowmentsfor the Arts and Humanities, since some of the tax would be derived from literature and art, and the rest would go to a new Science Trust Fund. The science portion, administered by the National Science Foundation along guidelines established by a government interagency committee, would be spent on education, on buildings, equipment and maintenance and on "blue sky" basic research.
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Title Annotation:National Coalition for Science and Technology proposes tax on sale of printed or electronic information
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 24, 1987
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