Bob Goodlatte: Keeping Internet access tax free
Few people study their telephone and Internet bills closely, but it might be worth taking a second glance next month. Take a close look at your next phone bill, and at the bottom you will see a laundry list of access taxes. But if you look at your Internet service provider’s bill, those access taxes will be missing. Wouldn’t you like to keep it that way?
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would keep your Internet access tax free. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), which I introduced in September, was approved by a vote of 30 to 4. This bill would make permanent provisions of a bill passed in 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), that temporarily bans states from taxing Internet access or placing multiple or discriminatory taxes on e-commerce. The Internet Tax Freedom Act has been extended three times since it was first enacted. The most recent extension passed in 2007, but it will expire on November 1, 2014, if Congress does not act. My legislation, which was passed by the Committee, permanently ensures that access to the Internet is not burdened by unnecessary costs and that Americans can continue to access the Internet tax free.
Nowadays, more and more of our daily activities have moved online, and they will continue to do so as technology grows. Today’s Internet connects communities in the sixth district with people throughout the United States and across the globe. It is the greatest gateway to knowledge and information that has ever existed. Many folks rely on access to the Internet to continue educational opportunities, apply for employment, run businesses, monitor bank accounts, and communicate with family and friends. This tool has transformed our economy and how we live our lives each day.
As co-chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus and Chairman of the House Technology Working Group, I have long supported efforts to prevent Internet access taxes, which would have a substantial impact on consumers’ tax burden. Taxation of Internet access will increase the costs of households going online and result in a greater gap between those who can afford to go online and those who cannot.
For most families and businesses, the last thing they want to see is the puzzling array of taxes on their phone bills repeated on their Internet service bills. More than 225 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have already signed on as cosponsors of my bill. Instead of applying a band-aid fix every few years to further extend the tax ban, I hope the House will swiftly take up the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act to provide a lasting solution.