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Trump Screws Electronics Enthusiasts

This is not a political thing I’m doing. I have no dog in the hunt over gay rights or the upcoming Russian invasion. I’m just a bad maker and worse engineer. However, I just heard today on the Macrofab Podcast that my unpopulated PCB orders will face a new government tax of 25%. A kit I wanted to sell for $8 will now have to sell for $10. I will sell less. Broke people who want to buy my kits will get less money for their buck.

I don’t know ANY of the details of the current macro trade stuff. I try to stay exactly five years behind on politics. (It’s much more fun.) What I do know is I’m taking a direct hit and my business will directly suffer. It’s one thing to charge more money on the consumer level. It’s another thing to affect the livelihood of small business owners.

Random Application of Tariffs

Another truly intriguing part about these tariffs is how selective they are in their taxation.

Unpopulated PCBs
If a printed circuit board (PCB) is populated with components in China, there is no additional tariff. The reasons for this seem intuitive. Apple has lobbyists. Apple doesn’t want their phones to go up 25%. It’s too bad smaller business owners don’t have any representation.

Flyback diodes
If a diode is to be used for voltage suppression, it is taxed. How in the hell do they know if I’m going to use a diode for rectification or voltage suppression? That’s a good one. Where did they find the tax attorney who has a background in electronics? That’s impressive, actually.

Potentiometers (not resistors)
Fixed resistors don’t get an additional hike. Variable potentiometers go up 25%. Who comes up with this stuff?

Transformers under 1kA
Transformers under 1KA – essentially all consumer grade transformers – go up 25%. The big, industrial transformers face no hit.

I’ve always been perplexed why the tax code favors horse farmers differently than corn or cow farmers. (Each group has varying lobbyist strength.) I’m not aware of the flyback diode industry having a powerhouse lobby that the rectifier diode industry just can’t keep up with.

Where Is The Money Going?

The real question is where is this money going? I did the unthinkable and Googled this tariff mess. I see both China and the US are cranking up their taxes. Ok. Is this to pay off the debt? Are they building a new Hoover dam? Are we invading a new country? I’m just trying to figure out why we’d reduce US prosperity and increase the prices of U.S. manufactured goods. If I know where my money (and business) are going, I’ll be more inclined to pony up.

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