Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate have re-introduced a bill that would impose a five-year moratorium on any new taxes or fees on wireless service.
Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Trent Franks, R-Ariz., joined Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in jointly introducing the bipartisan bill on Thursday. Wyden introduced a similar bill in 2009, but it never went past the committee stage, according to Wireless Week. However, the new bill has already attracted much more support in Congress, with 144 Democratic and Republican lawmakers signing on as co-sponsors in the House. Even the wireless industry's trade association, the CTIA, has issued a statement of support.
On average, wireless customers now pay 16.3 percent in taxes and fees, more than twice the average rate of 7.4 percent on other goods and services, according to a report by KSE Partners. In many localities, this cumulative tax burden is even worse: 26.8 percent in Baltimore, 19.9 percent in Omaha, 18.2 percent in Tallahassee, and 20.4 percent in New York City.
The Wireless Tax Fairness Act would halt this trend by imposing a temporary, five-year freeze on new taxes that are imposed only on wireless services. Wireless broadband access is rapidly becoming a key platform for innovation, and this legislation will help foster further investment and access in this key market, the bill’s sponsors argue. The bill would not take away any existing revenue from state or local governments, but simply cap the current taxes and fees.
“The Wireless Tax Fairness Act, is about expanding access and innovation in our nation’s wireless broadband market,” Lofgren said in a statement. “By freezing wireless taxes and fees, we hope to spur additional consumer-driven development in wireless broadband and to increase access to advanced wireless networks.”
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