Bi-partisan Letter Urges Congress to Keep Internet Access Free of Taxes

Michi Iljazi

April 11, 2014

April 15th is fast approaching and TPA has been showcasing some of the worst examples of government waste over the last year with our Top 10 Taxpayer Flops, Follies, and Fisacos of video 2014 (watch here). There is another important issue that taxpayers need to be concerned about, Internet taxes, and specifically Internet access taxes. In 2013, TPA was excited to see the bipartisan Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act introduced in the House by Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D – Calif.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).  A bipartisan Senate version was introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). This issue is uniquely important because of the impact it has to everyone who uses the Internet.  With tax day approaching and millions of taxpayers filing their taxes online, Internet access taxes could be a double whammy on an already weary taxpayer. With the moratorium set to expire in November of this year, there is no excuse for any taxpayer to be taxed simply for filing their taxes online. With that in mind, and recognizing the continued and increasing importance the Internet plays in everybody’s daily lives, TPA joined with nearly 30 other groups in signing a letter urging strong support for both the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) and the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (S. 1431), noting that “By establishing tax policies that will help keep access to the Internet affordable and Internet commerce free from multiple and discriminatory taxation, more and more citizens of all economic levels will be able to participate in today’s digital economy.”  The letter is bi-partisan, the support on Capitol Hill is bi-partisan, therefore this should be easy for Congress to pass immediately.

Read the full letter below:

April 10, 2014

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman House Committee on the Judiciary
2309 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Ron Wyden
Chairman Senate Committee on Finance
221 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Anna Eshoo
Ranking Member, Communications & Technology Subcommittee
241 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable John Thune
Ranking Member, Commerce Committee
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Goodlatte, Chairman Wyden, Representative Eshoo, and Senator Thune:

On behalf of the members of organizations from a diverse political spectrum, we write today to express our strong support for the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) and the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (S. 1431). We greatly appreciate your continued leadership on this issue, and stand ready to work with you and your colleagues to ensure swift passage of legislation to make the moratorium on multiple and discriminatory taxes and taxes on Internet access permanent before the current Internet tax moratorium expires on November 1, 2014. With strong bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, these bills should be considered for passage prior to the August recess to avoid any uncertainty that will result from delay.

Internet taxation affects all Americans from all political views and all walks of life. From healthcare to education, small business entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies, the Internet has dramatically transformed the way everyone lives, works, and learns. In 2010, the Internet accounted for an estimated $684 billion, or 4.7 percent of all U.S. economic activity. While the Internet was a nascent technology when the current moratorium was established in 1998, it has become the economic engine driving innovation and growth in our 21st century economy. Throttling that engine at a time when our economy is struggling hurts not only those trying to invest in America’s future, but also those who can least afford it and have the most to gain from the Internet’s potential.

By establishing tax policies that will help keep access to the Internet affordable and Internet commerce free from multiple and discriminatory taxation, more and more citizens of all economic levels will be able to participate in today’s digital economy. In fact, the impact of the Internet on the economy helped to convince a majority of the members on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce to recommend in 2000 to make the Internet tax moratorium permanent. While the Internet tax moratorium has been extended three times since then, short-term extensions are no substitute for the certainty that will be provided by ensuring that there will never be a tax on access to the Internet.

Below are some quotes from the organizations on the letter:

“While Congress and the President want consumer adoption, investment, deployment and innovation in broadband services, allowing the imposition of onerous taxes would nullify these goals. We need to not tax what we should encourage.” Steve Pociask, President of The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research

“Ensuring that our business members continue to have affordable and reliable internet access will allow them to remain competitive in today’s global economy. We support the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) because we understand that our country is strongest when citizens of all economic levels have fair access to the internet.” Ron Busby Sr., President of U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.

“It is not often that an issue receives bipartisan support in Washington, D.C., but the Internet tax moratorium is a rare area where both liberals and conservatives have found common ground.” Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Again, we thank you for your leadership on these issues and we look forward to working with you to achieve making the Internet tax moratorium permanent.

Sincerely,

60 Plus Association

American Commitment

The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research

Americans for Job Security

Americans for Tax Reform

Center for Individual Freedom

Consumer Action

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Digital Liberty

Health IT Now

Hispanic Leadership Fund

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

The Latino Coalition

League of United Latin American Citizens

Less Government

Madery Bridge Associates

Minority Media and Telecommunications Council

National Association of Neighborhoods

National Black Chamber of Commerce

National Caucus and Center on Black Aging. Inc.

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Hispanic Council on Aging

National Taxpayers Union

Net Competition

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Women Impacting Public Policy