Back in August, Sens. Ron Wyden and John Thune introduced legislation that would permanently extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998. The legislation prevents state and local governments from taxing Internet services. Now similar legislation has finally been introduced in the House.
The Hill reports that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Rep. Anna Eshoo have introduced the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act in to the House. The bill, much like the Senate's legislation, would permanently prevent state and local governments from taxing Internet services.
In a statement released to the public, Rep. Goodlatte says that removing taxation from Internet access ensures that more people can access the invaluable resource:
"The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act ensures that Americans can continue to access the Internet tax-free. In this increasingly digital age, Americans rely on access to the Internet to apply for employment, to seek and share innovative ideas, to keep governments accountable, to run small businesses, and to communicate with their families and friends. This legislation will help ensure more Americans have access to this tremendous medium by reducing cost barriers."
As for Rep. Eshoo, she says that the legislation will protect a resource that's feeds billions of dollars into the economy:
"Access to the Internet has transformed the lives of millions of Americans, businesses and schools. 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 House and Senate bill not only prevent state and local governments from taxing Internet services, but it would also ban multiple and discriminatory taxes on digital items. This is especially important as it would protect consumers from having to pay email taxes or byte taxes. Can you imagine having to pay a tax for every byte of data that's transferred to your home? Some Internet users already have to deal with unfair data usage caps, and adding taxes onto that wouldn't help matters at all.
It should be noted that the Internet Tax Freedom Act has no governance over the sales tax of online items. For that, you're going to want to take a look at the Marketplace Fairness Act. Some would argue that its effects would be just as detrimental to consumers and small businesses that rely on the Internet to make a living.[Image: Congressman Bob Goodlatte/Facebook]