Internet Access Tax Ban Passes in House and Now Senate Must Do the Same

Michi Iljazi

June 15, 2015

Last week the House of Representatives (on a voice vote) passed H.R. 235, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), which would forever ban internet access taxes. This is an important piece of legislation for several reasons and taxpayers should be encouraged that the House has once again moved in a bipartisan way to protect internet users from needless taxes that would be imposed simply for going online.

The bill was sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); and he, along with cosponsors Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.),  Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). They issued the following statement after passage:

“We applaud the bipartisan passage of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act today in the House. PITFA is a necessary measure to keep Internet access free of taxation. Internet access drives innovation and the success of our economy. It is a gateway to knowledge, opportunity, and the rest of the world. The American people deserve affordable access to the Internet and the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act will help prevent unreasonable cost increases that hurt consumers and slow job creation.”

Banning internet access taxes permanently has been an issue where Taxpayers Protection Alliance has been a consistent and vocal supporter. The internet is such an important component to today’s economy that a new tax on access would likely have a devastating impact on the way in which millions of Americans utilize the web everyday. Beyond the cost to taxpayers for access, there are more reasons why a tax on internet access would be major problem:

  • It would take an already complicated tax code and make it increasingly more complicated. With more than 10,000 state and local jurisdictions that deal in taxing communications services, allowing the ban to expire would have implications on every single one of them.
  • The implications for how the web is used would go beyond the average internet user. Commerce would be damaged; Schools and colleges would be impacted. Those of us who have smart phones, tablets, TVs, and game consoles that access the Internet would all suffer.

The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) of 1998 was passed as the first real protection for Internet users against taxes for accessing broadband services, and over the last 16 years the ban on Internet access taxes has continued to be temporary, with Congressional legislation extending the ban in 2001, 2004, and 2007. Last summer, the House acted and passed a permanent ban by a voice vote, and yet the Senate did nothing to advance the legislation further. TPA is calling on the Senate not to repeat that same mistake and take action to pass legislation that will serve as a permanent ban on internet access taxes, ensuring stability for the millions of Americans who use the internet on a daily basis on one or multiple devices. Upwards of three-quarters of all U.S. households have an internet connection, according to stats from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Providing a guarantee that those individuals won’t face a new tax simply for logging onto the internet is crucial to preserving the innovation and investment that have made the internet what it is today.

Right now there is companion legislation in the Senate, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, introduced by Senators John Thune (R- S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The Senate should pass this bill, and help move closer to finally making the ban on internet access taxes permanent.

TPA, and the Internet Tax Freedom Act Coalition (ITFA) have continued to highlight the importance of keeping the internet tax-free, and House passage of PITFA is a key step in the overall goal of keeping needless taxes off the internet. Now, the focus and pressure should be focused on the Senate as they have legislation ready and waiting. The Senate should pass their version and put a bill on the President’s desk to protect all Americans from internet access taxes for good.