A former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush argues that lawmakers in Washington must "do what is right for consumers" and pass a ban on the Internet access tax.
In an op-ed for The Daily Caller,
Christopher D. Coursen discusses the Internet Tax Freedom Act,
which the House passed last week. The law, which has been in place since 1998 and has been renewed five times since, will expire Oct. 1 if the Senate does not side with the House and vote for its passage.
The law bans access taxes for email and Internet services.
"This time, the measure would write the ban into law permanently — a positive development that would forever fend off the more than 10,000 different state and local taxing jurisdictions always seeking new revenue streams," Coursen writes.
"Communications services are highly taxed compared to most goods and services — 17 percent on voice services and 12 percent on cable on average — and tend to place an unfair burden on lower income users least able to afford them."
A roadblock, however, comes in the form of another piece of legislation that would enact a state sales tax for online purchases from retailers that do not have a physical location within that state.
The Marketplace Fairness Act passed in the Senate two years ago but sputtered in the House. Last year, a group of Senators tried to combine that bill with the aforementioned legislation that would keep the ban on the Internet access tax.
Coursen cites a Washington Examiner story
that quotes a Senate aide as saying, "it would not be surprising at all" to see the Senate combine both Internet tax proposals into one single bill again.
"They are trying to attach a controversial bill to one that is universally accepted and supported," the aide told the Examiner.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are divided over the issue of taxing Internet purchases. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, for example, is in favor of the practice and has actually introduced another form of the bill.
Republican candidate for president Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, does not support taxing Internet purchases. According to another Daily Caller story,
he called the Marketplace Fairness Act a "massive new sales tax."
"Solving the online sales tax debate is a complicated issue, one that requires sacrifice and compromise — something not in great supply," Coursen writes. "With the 2016 election season looming large, Congress must advance the vast majority of bills before the August recess if it hopes for passage in 2015. There is simply too much at stake for consumers, already dealing with extensive add-on fees, to risk the expiration of ITFA."
Coursen notes that the ban on an Internet access tax is supported by several high-ranking senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
"Rather than continue down this path of political gamesmanship and the resulting dysfunction created thereby, the Senate should do what is right for consumers," Coursen writes. "Otherwise, we will all be paying the cost."
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