Accounting News Roundup: Bike Taxes and ‘Chipped’ Employees | 07.25.17

bike taxes

Bike taxes

My initial hot take when I saw this Tax Foundation article on Oregon’s new bike tax was — OREGON MUST HATE FREEDOM. And if you cruise the web, a lot of Oregonian bike riders are plenty miffed by the $15 tax “on the purchase of bicycles with a retail price of $200 or more and a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches.” But it’s a small price to pay, and it’s not going to hurt the sale of bikes. Bike retailers, like all businesses, will pass the cost onto their customers, so there’s no loss to them. And some people think that this will discourage people from buying bikes, overall, which is absurd. Even I, as a cyclist and rabid bicycle advocate, can make a case for this tax. Observe:

First, lots of people buy bikes directly from owners on the secondary market, so they’re going to avoid the tax entirely. Second, Oregon doesn’t have a state sales tax! If someone wanted to avoid the tax by driving to a neighboring state, they’re still likely to spend more by the time you factor in the cost to travel to WA, ID, CA, or NV and then apply the sales tax in any of those states. Third, people have already found loopholes:

Since this only seems to apply to complete bikes (not parts), you could sell a bike frame + components, and separately purchase a wheel-set and it would be exempt from this tax. I predict we may see more of that…

Fourth — and this is where the tax policy nerd in me takes over a bit — what’s the intended purpose of the tax? Here’s the Tax Foundation:

Revenue is a big part of it, of course, but if a secondary priority is to get people out of standard vehicles and into electric cars or onto a bicycle, then one might favor substantial tax preferences for those other modes of transportation. On the other hand, one might just as well conceptualize these taxes as paying for the roads (or bike paths) used and the wear-and-tear of traffic, and perhaps to help “price” contributions to congestion. In that case, the preferences make less sense.

So if you’re of the opinion that taxes should incentivize certain behavior — e.g. riding bikes instead of driving cars — the tax doesn’t make sense. However, it makes more sense if you think the people that use infrastructure should help pay for it.

I’m less convinced by the “encouraged behavior” argument simply because there are lots of good reasons to ride a bike. Yes, the fact that they don’t cause pollution and contribute to traffic congestion are among them, but they’re also more economical, safer, and great exercise.

On the other hand, making cities more bike friendly is a hard sell for some people.

To help alleviate that, it makes sense for cyclists to shoulder a portion of the cost to infrastructure changes that will make a city more bike friendly. And besides, when has $15 prevented anyone from buying anything?

KPMG

At the bottom of this innocuous article on KPMG occupying an 8th floor at KPMG Plaza in Dallas, the commercial broker details appear, which is customary for articles like these. However, I couldn’t help but do a double-take when I read them:

Kim Butler represented KPMG Plaza at HALL Arts in the transaction, and Carl Ewert of JLL represented the tenant, KPMG.

I know, I know. KPMG doesn’t own the building; they just have the naming rights. Still, assuming that “KPMG Plaza at HALL Arts” is the official name, all of the mentions of “KPMG” in those real estate documents would be enough to cross your eyes. I’ll bet some poor schmuck had to triple-check them just to make sure the P and the M never got transposed.

“Chipped” employees

Uh, no thank you:

A Wisconsin technology company is offering its employees microchip implants that can be used to scan into the building and purchase food at work. Whether or not to get a chip is up to the employee to decide.

Three Square Market, “a company that provides technology for break-room or micro markets,” says it has “50 employees who plan to have the devices implanted” and, sure, you do what you want, people.

This excerpt also creeps me out:

And while microchipping employees may sound like something out of a horror film, the company is partnering with Swedish company BioHax International, which already has many “chipped” employees.

Employees are not required to get the microchips, and Westby told the station there is no GPS tracking.

Oh, you’re working with a company called  BioHax that already does this? Oh, the CEO says there’s not GPS tracking? I think those two excellent reasons to run the hell away.

Earlier: Deloitte Dabbles in Orwellian Tracking Devices

Previously, on Going Concern…

In Open Items, a staff IT auditor is unsure about their workload, given their status.

In other news:

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