Unless you're buying something online, the Internet is a tax free service. That all might change in 2014, however, if a bill barring the government from taxing the Internet isn't extended. Fortunately, two senators are already on the case with a new permanent extension.
The Hill reports that Senators Kelly Ayotte and Dean Heller have introduced an extension to 1998's Internet Tax Freedom Act. The law last saw an expansion in 2007 that would keep the Internet tax free until 2014. The law being proposed by Ayotte and Heller would make the extension permanent. The bill would only block taxes like bandwidth or email taxes. It does not have an effect on online sales tax as that's an entirely separate issue.
In a statement published on her Web site, Ayotte said extending tax exemptions for Internet access will keep job growth alive:
"E-commerce is thriving largely because the Internet is free from burdensome tax restrictions. Unfortunately, tax collectors see it as a new revenue source, and they must be stopped. This legislation will provide certainty to the marketplace, helping the Internet continue to be a driving force for jobs and growth."
Heller also chimed in by saying the permanent tax exemption would preserve the Internet "as a tool for education and innovation:"
"Nevadans and every American should be able to access the Internet without penalties from the federal government. The Internet Tax Freedom Act will ensure a long-standing federal policy that prevents the government from raising taxes, and preserves the Internet as a tool for education and innovation. I am pleased to work with Senator Ayotte on this issue and encourage Congress to work together to extend this act permanently."
I'm sure there will be some disagreement over how far Internet taxation can go, and some may argue that a permanent extension would not allow them to revisit the issue in the future if Internet taxation becomes more acceptable. That being said, an extension, preferably longer than the previous seven year extension, would only be a good thing. The Internet's phenomenal growth can only be attributed to its lack of regulation, and taxing people for just using Internet services would seriously cut down on its continued growth.
Besides, I don't think any of us want to pay more for Internet access than we already do.