House Judiciary To Mark Up Internet Tax Freedom Bill

The House Judiciary Committee Wednesday (June 18) is marking up the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. As its name suggests, the bill would permanently extend a ban on local and state Internet taxes that dates from 1998.

A bipartisan group of House committee and subcommittee chairmen and ranking members had introduced the bill in September 2013. It is backed by cable and telco ISPs.

As its name implies, it would make permanent the current 1998 law that placed a moratorium on state and local governments' ability to tax Internet access or levy multiple taxes on e-commerce.

A Senate version of the bill, S. 1431, was introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

As its name would suggest, the Internet Tax Freedom Coalition is pleased with the markup of the House bill.

“The House Judiciary Committee is taking the first step tomorrow morning to avoid new Internet access taxes on millions of Americans across the country," said Annabelle Canning, said executive director of the coalition. "The markup is the first step of many to ensure consumers, students, and small businesses are not burdened with new taxes on Internet access that could be as high as double the national sales tax rate. We applaud their efforts and hope the Senate will follow suit in moving a companion bill prior to the August recess to ensure Congress extends the Internet tax moratorium before it expires onNovember 1st.”

The Internet Tax Freedom Act has been extended three times since 1998. It is currently scheduled to expire Nov. 1, 2014, so the new bills would make that moot.

Cash-strapped states and local governments are always looking for new revenue sources, but the bill would make sure that would not include taxes on access to the Internet. That would make sense given that the government has made a priority of promoting Internet access and adoption and keeping the cost down.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.