Providers press for permanent tax ban on Internet access

Internet service providers reiterated their call Thursday on House and Senate leaders to make permanent a law that bans state and local governments from taxing Internet access. 

The group of trade organizations called on Congress to make the Internet Tax Freedom Act permanent before it expires on Dec. 11. Lawmakers have been working on an extension before the law sunsets.  

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"If Congress fails to act soon, millions of broadband, cable and wireless consumers will be at risk for new taxes in thousands of state and local jurisdictions," they wrote in the letter. 

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules MORE (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says he backs Mueller probe after classified briefing Overnight Finance: Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback | Snubs key Dems at ceremony | Senate confirms banking regulator | Lawmakers lash out on Trump auto tariffs Senate Dems’ campaign chief ‘welcomes’ midterm support from Clintons MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward Paul Ryan’s political purgatory Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt MORE (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The law has been extended a number of times since it was signed by former President Clinton, and has broad bipartisan support. 

Some in Congress have pushed to tie the extension to a separate proposal that would allow states to collect sales taxes on online purchases residents make from retailers located outside the state. The Marketplace Fairness Act passed the Senate earlier this year, but BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward Paul Ryan’s political purgatory Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt MORE has signaled he will not take it up in the lame-duck session. 

He has called for Congress to extend the ban on taxing Internet access by itself.  

The trade groups did not mention the Marketplace Fairness Act, focusing their letter on a permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. 

"Protecting consumers from having their broadband access subject to state and local taxation and protecting Internet commerce from multiple and discriminatory taxation has broad bipartisan and bicameral support and has been the law for sixteen years," the groups said. 

A Senate bill to make the law permanent has 52 co-sponsors, while another in the House has the backing of 228 members. 

The trade groups noted they represent companies that provide broadband, cable or wireless to more than 275 million subscribers. The letter was signed by leaders from the American Cable Association, the Competitive Carriers Association, COMPTEL, CTIA-The Wireless Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the US Telecom Association and the US Internet Service Providers Association.