New York considers tax breaks for developers of open-source software


New York state’s assembly is set to consider a new bill that would provide tax breaks for open-source software developers.

Senator Daniel Squadron (D)’s proposed NY senate bill S161, which is also sponsored by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D), will, if enabled, allow open-source software developers to claim back 20 percent of the expenses they incur for building and distributing free software. However, they’d only be able to claim back $200 a year under the proposed rules.

Senator Squadron told The Register via email that the technology sector in New York has a “growing presence” and that it’s essential to support that kind of innovation.

“I’ve also seen the cost-saving impacts open-source can have for everyday users and businesses,” he said. “Incentivizing open-source software can attract more open source developers, create in-state jobs, and add to the state’s burgeoning technology sector.”

It’s not clear what kind of chances the bill has of being passed into legislation. New York’s state senate is dominated by Republicans, and so it’ll be them who has the final say on the matter. But with the recent trend for politicians trying to appear ‘cool’ by publicly supporting technology trends and initiatives (See Obama’s recent appearance at SWSX), there’s a good chance the bill could get the support it needs.

And as The Register points out, the bill has one thing in its favor in that it’s not an entirely new idea. The concept was first proposed by the Center for American Progress think tank way back in 2006, which said an open-source tax credit “would help to level the playing field between for-profit companies and individual developers” and “enhance dissemination of ideas across the economy”.

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