Senators vow new push to outlaw an Internet tax

Two leading senators on the Commerce and Finance committees expressed confidence Monday that a ban on taxing Internet access will be approved in the new Congress. 

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Cybersecurity: DHS cyber nominee vows to make election security 'top priority' | CIA to allow lawmakers to review classified info on Haspel | Dems raise security concerns about Trump's phone use CIA will allow senators to review classified material on Haspel Senators debate new business deduction, debt in tax law hearing MORE (D-Ore.) said he and Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRepublicans want Trump’s VA nominee to withdraw Senators debate new business deduction, debt in tax law hearing House, Senate GOP compete for cash MORE (R-S.D.) have been working on the issue for years, and "now we've gotten a bit of seniority."

"So I am very hopeful that next year, a permanent — a permanent — version of the Internet Tax Freedom Act will be enacted," Wyden said on the Senate floor. "Sen. Thune and I are going to continue to work together on a bipartisan basis until that is done."

The 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act was extended for a year as part of the omnibus spending bill that passed Congress over the weekend. 

The law, which prevents most states from taxing Internet access, has been extended a number of times in the last decade and a half, but both senators want it to be renewed without an expiration date.

Wyden leads the Senate Finance Committee but will become the ranking Democrat next year, when majority control switches to Republicans. 

Thune is slated to take over the gavel of the Commerce Committee, and is hopeful the legislation "can be considered as early as possible in the next Congress."

The House approved a ban on Internet access taxes in July. The companions bill in the Senate has 52 co-sponsors, including 34 Republicans and 18 Democrats, but stopgap spending agreements have prevented it from moving forward, Wyden said. 

"Because the Congress has become too reliant — and we have certainly seen this in a number of areas — on stop and go government, it was necessary to once again pass a yearlong extension as part of a larger bill," he said. 

Wyden called a permanent extension "essential to our economic competitiveness," while Thune said failing to extend it would "risk canceling out our other efforts to get more Americans online." 

The two senators said they are also hopeful about passage of another bill to prohibit states from imposing multiple taxes on a digital downloads that are transferred online.