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 ReidSanders and Schumer are right: Ellison for DNC chair The Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs MORE (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' 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 BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' 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.