At the tender age of 16, a young man and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union with only $300 dollars to their name.
During their first few weeks in the United States, this young man’s family purchased a computer for him under the impression that “access to a personal computer would do something good for [him].”
During the next 10 years, this young man – Max Levchin – founded, developed and sold PayPal for $1.5 billion.
The beauty of this new medium of opportunity is that it does not matter what you look like or where you come from to access the tools to succeed.
However, one topic of debate on Capitol Hill has been whether to let states increase barriers to entry by taxing access to the internet.
Over the past 14 years, Congress has extended ban after ban on states taxing internet access. The measures have been met with enormous bipartisan support – only five “no” votes were cast in the history of these renewals in the House and Senate.
But now some argue that the time is up for an internet tax break and that states need the money more than American consumers.
On the House Judiciary Committee where I serve as chairman, we have been examining the issue of internet access tax and recently approved a bill, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086), that would make the ban on internet access taxes permanent.
Time is short, the ban expires on November 1. Today the House is scheduled to vote on the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act to make the ban permanent.
If the ban on internet access taxes is not renewed, the tax burden on Americans will be substantial. It is estimated that internet access tax rates will be more than twice the average rate of all other goods and services. Additionally, low-income households will pay 10 times as much as high-income households as a share of income.
The last thing that we need is another bill on the doorsteps of the American people. A tax on internet access would burden the millions of Americans who rely on the internet to conduct business, communicate, educate, and live.
We should strive to increase access, to increase growth and to increase opportunity. Now is the time: a permanent ban on taxation of internet access is crucial for fostering the potential of the next Max Levchin and protecting the future of our digital economy.
Goodlatte has represented Virginia's 6th Congressional District since 1993. He is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and also sits on the Agriculture Committee.