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Permanent Tax Freedom Bill Introduced In House

A bipartisan group of House committee and subcommittee chairmen and ranking members has introduced HR 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, a bill 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 last month by Sens. Rony Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is a strong backer of the legislation.

"Access to the Internet has transformed the lives of millions of Americans, businesses and schools," said co-sponsor Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee. It has driven us to new heights of innovation and led to billions of dollars in economic growth. Unfortunately, consumers will be faced with new state and local taxes to get online unless Congress permanently extends a ban on Internet access taxation. No one should pay a tax just to access the Internet, and the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act rightfully ensures just that. Its passage would be marked progress toward ensuring the Internet remains universally accessible and encourage its use by all."

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.

Other co-sponsors of the House version are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.),  Regulatory Reform Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and ranking member Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).

"We applaud Chairman Goodlatte, Rep. Eshoo and the other original co-sponsors on today's introduction of Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act," NCAT said in a statement. "Extending the current Internet tax moratorium will protect consumers and small businesses from new and burdensome state and local taxes on Internet access, helping more Americans get online and ensuring that the Internet continues to power U.S. economic growth.  We look forward to swift passage of this legislation in the House and towards it eventually being signed into law."

“We look forward to working with Representatives Goodlatte and Eshoo, as well as Senators Wyden and Thune, to enact this important piece of legislation for the millions of Americans who rely on the Internet," said CTIA: The Wireless Association President Steve Largent.