Republicans push Senate on Internet tax ban

Two top Republicans in the tech arena are pushing the Senate to pass a bill that would permanently ban state and local taxes on Internet access.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Thursday, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Ajit Pai, a Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, urged the Senate to move quickly on a House-passed bill that would permanently ban taxes on Internet access.

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“We can't let the government burden American families and businesses with new taxes and fees on Internet access,” the pair wrote.

Earlier this week, the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would make permanent a ban on state and local government taxation of Internet access.

That ban is set to expire on Nov. 1.

If the Senate fails to pass a counterpart before then, the upper chamber will be “clearing the way for countless new taxes on broadband-Internet access,” Thune and Pai wrote.

After the House passed its bill, a bipartisan coalition introduced a bill in the Senate that would ban taxes on Internet access for 10 years but also included a controversial measure that would allow states to collect sales tax on purchases that residents make from out-of-state online sellers.

The new Senate bill banning an Internet tax is an attempt to force a vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act, an online sales tax bill that the Senate passed last year but has stalled in the House.

Thune and Pai pushed the Senate to take up Thune’s Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, which is a direct companion to the House bill and does not include the online sales tax measures.

“Congress has to act fast to get a bill to the president,” the op-ed said.

“Otherwise, millions of Americans could soon receive notifications that their broadband bills may increase in November. That's not news consumers will be eager to hear in these challenging economic times.”