A group of senators have re-introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently prohibit taxes on Internet access.
The bill, known as the Internet Tax Freedom Act, was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, and John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, who is another member of the Senate Finance Committee. The bill has been co-sponsored by 38 other senators from both parties.
The House of Representatives passed a companion measure by voice vote in the last Congress, but both chambers only managed to agree to extend a temporary moratorium on Internet access taxes through Oct. 1, 2015 (see Ban on Internet Access Taxes Included in Spending Deal). The moratorium only applies to taxes on Internet access, not on goods purchased over the Internet.
The original ITFA, which Wyden co-authored in 1998, put in place a moratorium preventing state and local jurisdictions from imposing new taxes on the Internet and multiple and discriminatory taxes on e-commerce.
“I co-wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act to protect the openness and viability of the Internet as a platform for commerce, speech, and the exchange of ideas,” Wyden said in a statement. “Without ITFA, access to information would no longer be tax-free. Access to online communication would no longer be tax-free. Access to the global marketplace so crucial to America’s economic future would no longer be tax-free. The cost to consumers could easily be hundreds of dollars a year per household. Now is the time to make this law permanent.”
While Congress has reauthorized the law five times since its enactment, the Thune-Wyden bill would make the moratorium permanent.
“For successful 21st century innovators and entrepreneurs, the Internet is their lifeblood,” said Thune. “We should be celebrating their success, not taxing the tools they use to achieve it. Our bill, which would permanently ban Internet taxation, would encourage more American innovators and entrepreneurs to use broadband to develop the next big thing, while keeping the Internet open and accessible to consumers across the country. Senator Wyden and I look forward to working with Leader McConnell to bring this bill to the Senate floor.”
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