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Tech Companies Face the Mikulski Principle

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David Boaz

“State lawmakers across the country are exploring a range of new taxes targeting Amazon, Facebook, Google and other Internet giants,” reports Tony Romm in the Washington Post, “seeking to capture some of Silicon Valley’s eye‐​popping profits and soaring share prices in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Why should there be special taxes on large technology companies, beyond normal corporate and personal income taxes? Because, as the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton probably didn’t really say, that’s where the money is.

There are many theories of taxation, such as Haig‐​Simons, the Tiebout model, and the Ramsay Principle. But I’ve always observed that most elected officials operate on the theory most clearly enunciated in 1990 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD):

Let’s go and get it from those who’ve got it.

Right now it looks like tech companies, their founders, and their biggest stockholders have got it. So watch out, tech entrepreneurs, the taxers are coming for you.


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