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DoC Tells Senate To Pass Tax Ban

The House passed the Internet Non-Discrimination Act [HR 1552] on Oct. 16 by a unanimous voice vote. This bill extends the current Internet tax moratorium, for access and sales, another two years. The current ban, which was enacted by the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998, expired on October 21.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans said the Department of Commerce (DoC) urges Senators to extend the bipartisan moratorium as soon as possible.

"I commend the U.S. House of Representatives for its expeditious handling of this issue and I look forward to working with Congress on tax simplification efforts," Evans said in a statement. "Right now, however, we need to say no to new taxes and extend the Internet moratorium for at least two years. In a time of uncertainty, we must continue to reassure consumers, businesses, and markets that we continue to create the right environment for growth."

More than war
Evans explained that the White House supports an extension of the current Internet tax moratorium, too.

"During the campaign, the President expressed his desire to see a five-year extension of the existing moratorium on multiple or discriminatory Internet taxation, and the continued ban on Internet access taxes," Evans said. "We have reiterated that desire recently. But whether for five years or two, the most important thing is to extend the moratorium."

Evans asked that the Senate consider the question of Internet taxation and extend the bipartisan moratorium as soon as possible.

"Our robust Internet economy has driven American economic growth, technological innovation and global competitiveness over the past five years and we look to information technologies to support future growth," Evans said. "Opening the door to discriminatory taxes or access taxes on the Internet at this time would be a mistake."

Senate discussions on the extension of the moratorium bogged down over whether to link it with state tax code simplification, or not. Senate business was further hog-tied by anthrax investigations that closed both Senate and House office buildings until Tuesday.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is spearheading the two-year measure, said he would press for a tax ban extension when the Senate reopens on today. Meanwhile, it is highly unlikely that states would impose Internet-specific taxes in the interim.