Bill Seeks Permanent Ban on Internet Access Taxes

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A bill that would extend permanently the moratorium on new Internet access taxes has widespread support in Congress, members of the House of Representatives said this week.

"There is little debate on either side of the aisle that Americans should not be forced to pay regressive new taxes on their Internet access," bill sponsor Christopher Cox, R-CA, said at a news conference designed to illustrate backing for the bill.

Cox and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, sponsored two previous pieces of legislation prohibiting new Internet access taxes. A similar bill introduced by Wyden, S. 51, is under consideration in the Senate. The current ban is scheduled to expire Nov. 1.

Chris Cannon, R-UT, chairman of the House Judiciary commercial and administrative law subcommittee, said at the news conference that he would work to move the bill through committee as soon as possible. The Judiciary Committee should approve the bill quickly, he said, sending it to the full House for a vote.

More than 100 members of Congress have announced support for both bills.

The bills introduced by Cox and Wyden deal with Internet access and have nothing to do with sales taxes for items purchased online.

Meanwhile, legislation requiring collection of Internet sales taxes continues to move through state legislatures. The California Senate's tax committee approved a bill late last month for the state to join the Streamlined Sales & Use Tax Agreement. The agreement was passed in November by a group of more than 30 states and the District of Columbia.

The SSUTA is designed to reduce the thousands of individual state sales tax rates, making it manageable for direct marketers to collect sales taxes online. Currently, only companies with a physical presence in the same state as the buyer are required to collect sales taxes.

California's bill is scheduled to be heard by the state Senate Appropriations Committee this month. If California joins the SSUTA, it then would need to pass legislation complying with the agreement.

Kentucky, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia have passed legislation that complies with the SSUTA. Fifteen states have introduced similar legislation: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Washington.

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