RealTime IT News

Net Groups Cheer Reps' Move on Taxes

Technology industry groups and lobby outfits heaped praise on the U.S. House of Representatives today after it overwhelmingly passed a bill that extends the moratorium on Internet taxes for another four years.

House members voted 404-2 to pass the Internet Tax Freedom Amendment Act of 2007, thereby extending the moratorium on levying Internet taxes until 2011.

Now, the bill goes before the Senate, which is under pressure to act before the current four-year ban expires Nov. 1.

Whether that ban should be temporary or permanent also remains a critical question for lawmakers. Congress has renewed the ban twice since the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) originally passed in 1998.

Roger Cochetti, Group Director of U.S. Public Policy for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) called the House vote a tremendous, collaborative step toward beating the approaching deadline.

"The baton has now been passed to the Senate, and we urge them to sprint this legislation across the finish line," he said in a statement. "Since its first passage in 1998, the [Tax Moratorium] has undeniably grown the use of the Internet by U.S. businesses and individuals."

"It spawned whole new business models and industries, helped Americans of all stripes get on and stay connected to the Internet, and has kept the U.S. marketplace competitive and robust," he said. "By temporarily extending the ban on multiple and discriminatory taxes on e-commerce, as well as for most Internet access taxes, the House has done its part to keep the most powerful economic, social and political engine of this century online."

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) heaped similar praise on the bill, which was sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). The group applauded the House vote, but urged the Senate to take it even further by making the tax ban permanent.

The Senate has seen efforts to enact a permanent ban before. For example, last January, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Sununu (R-N.H.) introduced legislation to make permanent the current access tax moratorium on Internet connections.

Steven Berry, DMA's executive vice president for government affairs and corporate responsibility, said in a statement that such an effort today would have widespread, bipartisan support from members of both chambers of Congress, as well as from the Bush Administration.

"After all, access to the Internet is far too valuable of a commodity to our economy to be impeded by various taxes at every level of government," he said.

The only representatives to vote against the measure were Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), whose district of Palo Alto is home to some of the biggest names in technology, and Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio).