Senate Can Save Consumers from Tax on Internet Access
This week, the U.S. Senate has the opportunity to give nearly every American an important commitment for their future Internet access – a permanent moratorium on taxing Internet access. It’s an important measure that has strong bipartisan support and should be passed into law. It’s officially known as ITFA, or the Internet Tax Freedom Act , and by making it permanent, it ensures America’s Internet users never see their Internet access taxed in the way many other telecommunications services often are.
More than just a money-saver, passing a permanent ITFA could have long-term benefits for promoting broadband use. In an op-ed last week in Morning Consult, economist Ev Erlich shared insight into the potential harms of increasing the cost of broadband. Citing a study from the Phoenix Center, Erlich noted that even a seemingly modest 5 percent increase in consumer cost would, “undo the last four years’ adoption gains” in broadband usage. In addition, a poll from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) finds that 83 percent of Americans want Congress to keep their Internet access untaxed. In other words, almost everyone wants a permanent ITFA because everyone benefits from a permanent ITFA.
Furthering support for a tax moratorium, 45 organizations signed a letter supporting it, saying, “In the 17 years since Congress first passed a ban on Internet access taxes, the Internet has evolved from a luxury into a necessity of modern life.” ITFA helps consumers maintain access to the Internet by protecting them from high-rate taxes normally imposed on telecommunications services – many of which can be twice as high as those imposed on normal goods and services.
The reason a permanent ITFA gets so much support is because so many of us know Internet access is more than a convenience, it’s the way millions of Americans connect and thousands of small businesses sell their wares. It’s how students get ahead, and rural residents connect with doctors hundreds of miles away.
After years of extensions, Congress now has a chance to stop the cycle of temporary reprieves and act to make ITFA permanent. In doing so, they will be protecting consumers, supporting the Internet, and saving Americans from another unnecessary tax. We hope Congress takes this opportunity and passes a permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act.