Lawmakers push to ban taxes on Internet service

Legislation to permanently bar states and cities from placing a tax on the Internet is moving forward in the House.

The Judiciary Committee will mark up the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act on Wednesday morning, the panel announced on Monday.  

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State and local governments are currently prohibited from enacted taxes on Internet access, but the 1998 law banning them is set to expire this year. Unless new legislation goes forward, state legislatures and city councils could start eyeing Web surcharges in order to fill dwindling coffers.

The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act would extend that ban indefinitely.

It was introduced last year by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Technology subcommittee.

The bill currently has 214 cosponsors in the House, just four short of a majority. A companion bill in the Senate from Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has 50 cosponsors, spelling an easy path forward in both chambers.

Aside from its bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, anti-tax and Web freedom groups have also pushed for the bill.

In a letter expected on Monday, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and Katie McAuliffe, head the group’s Digital Liberty project, told lawmakers that the bill was a way to protect constituents “from an unnecessary barrier to the most self-improving technology that has existed thus far.”

“The Internet is our greatest gateway to knowledge,” they wrote. “Support your constituents’ individual ability for self-advancement by co-sponsoring [the the Permanent Internet tax Freedom Act] and giving it your vote when it comes to the floor as stand-alone legislation.”