Lawmakers target wireless taxes

“The current landscape of excessive and discriminatory taxes on wireless services discourages its adoption and use, especially with lower income families.” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said in a statement.  “As wireless communications become a necessity for families and businesses nationwide, it is imperative wireless consumers are protected from the burdens of exorbitant fees, surcharges, and general business taxes.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) teamed up with Snowe to introduce the Senate measure, while Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) took the lead in the House. In releases on their legislation, the sponsors noted that states impose taxes on wireless goods at far higher rates than for other services and said their legislation would put a freeze on any taxes that would only be levied on wireless services.

Industry groups like CTIA have also voiced their support for the legislation, which comes not long after studies reporting that wireless consumers in the U.S. on average pay a combined tax rate of 16.3 percent

“This freeze would not take away any existing revenue for state and local governments, but would provide time so the localities can reform their existing tax systems,” said Steve Largent, a former congressman and chief executive of CTIA.

Both wireless measures were introduced Thursday, with the House bill already garnering more than 140 co-sponsors.