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Wireless Tax Fairness Act Introduced

If a couple of legislators have their way, Congress will pass a five-year moratorium on new taxes on wireless Internet access.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) have introduced the Wireless Tax Fairness Act. That comes as the Senate is considering legislation—but not until next month—to make permanent the Internet Tax Fairness Act, which prevents state and local taxes on wired Internet access.

The WTFA would not eliminate the taxes, only freeze them at current levels for the next five years.

They point out that given the demos most likely to be getting their Internet access wirelessly, the current nearly 18% tax on wireless service falls disproportionately on the younger, lower income, and working (they could have added minority, but did not) Americans.

"With wireless broadband access rapidly becoming a key platform for innovation, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act will help foster greater access and investment in this key market by halting [as in arresting the growth of] discriminatory and increasingly onerous tax treatment."

They cite as reasons to freeze the tax rates cities like Chicago, where it is 36%, Baltimore at 29.9%, and New York at 26.9%.

“We thank Representatives Lofgren and Franks for their bipartisan leadership on this issue and their commitment to helping fix the problem of discriminatory wireless taxes," said CTIA VP Jot Carptenter. "For too long, state and local governments discriminated against wireless services by imposing rates that are often double generally applicable sales taxes. In today’s information-driven, mobile economy, that just doesn’t make sense.”

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.