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US House Passes Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxes 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the potholes-on-the-information-superhighway dept.
jfruh writes: In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a law that temporarily banned all taxes imposed by federal, state, and local governments on Internet access and Internet-only services, a ban that has been faithfully renewed every year since. Now the U.S. House has passed a passed a permanent version of the ban, which also applies to several states that had passed Internet taxes before 1998 and were grandfathered in under the temporary law. The Senate must pass the bill as well by November 1 or the temporary ban will lapse.
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US House Passes Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxes

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Could they tack a rider onto that sucker mandating out-the-door advertised prices while they're at it?

  • by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @02:15PM (#47468607) Homepage

    They'll never pass up an opportunity to squeeze more money to fund pet projects back home. Hell, they're already talking about tapping the untouched potential of my 401(k).

    • They'll never pass up an opportunity to squeeze more money to fund pet projects back home. Hell, they're already talking about tapping the untouched potential of my 401(k).

      My guess is they may simply because they may not want to face a "Sen XX voted to raise taxes..." ad back home.

    • They'll never pass up an opportunity to squeeze more money to fund pet projects back home. Hell, they're already talking about tapping the untouched potential of my 401(k).

      Do you pay taxes on services. Get the car repaired and pay for labour and taxes? In most parts of the world, labor is value added and is therefore taxed. Are your phone services taxed?

  • Without reading the details.. I doubt this will pass, if its democrat sponsered, the repubs will shut it down in the house. If it's GOP approved, the senate will kill it. Gotta love our divided country!

    • Without reading the details.. I doubt this will pass, if its democrat sponsered, the repubs will shut it down in the house. If it's GOP approved, the senate will kill it. Gotta love our divided country!

      Seperation of power results in loss of power for all!

      • Re:November? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dins (2538550) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @02:50PM (#47468971)

        Seperation of power results in loss of power for all!

        As it should be. We need fewer laws, not more of them.

        • Congress misuses the Interstaye Commerce Clause in many Rube Goldbergian arguments to extend their power, but this is a legitimate, direct use of it for its real intention: stopping states from throwing up roadblocks to interstate commerce.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          based on what, exactly? why would an increasing complex world need less laws?
          You are begging the question.

        • >As it should be. We need fewer laws, not more of them.

          While I agree with the general principle you DO need enough of a functioning system to be able to actually pass the good laws and revoke the bad ones.
          A government that cannot get either done at all (which is what the US has today) is nothing but a massive and worthless expense.

          As an anarchist the system I favour would make new laws much easier to suggest and pass than any govenrment but, with a much greater level of oversight (since everybody votes

    • Both the article and the summary state that it's already passed the House.

      I'm curious, do any other countries tax Internet usage? I know the French proposed doing it to pay for their state-owned public television stations but I'm not sure how far that went.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        There is VAT (sales tax) on telecommunication services in every country in the EU, ranging from 15% in Luxembourg to 27% in Hungary. The average rate is around 20%.

        • Interesting, thanks for the info. So is this a tax on service fees or products purchased over the Internet (or are there separate taxes for both)?

          Is this tax earmarked for a particular item, or added to the country's general fund? Sorry I realize you may not know the answers to these questions.

          • by jonbryce (703250)

            The tax I was referring to is on the service fees. Sales tax on products purchased online is at the same rate as for products purchased offline. Of the sales tax, 0.33% goes to EU funds and the rest goes to the country's own general funds.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "if its democrat sponsered, the repubs will shut it down in the house"

      "Now the U.S. House has passed a passed a permanent version of the ban, which also applies to several states that had passed Internet taxes before 1998 and were grandfathered in under the temporary law. The Senate must pass the bill as well by November 1 or the temporary ban will lapse."

      I mean, it's right in the summary man.

    • Tax cuts, no matter how silly, pretty much always seem to pass.

      I'm going to go ahead and make the controversial decision to announce my opposition to this one. Pretty much all infrastructure is taxed, why should the Internet be different?

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        because a concept should not be taxed, the infrastructure IS taxed, meaning the servers and cables and the like. This is about taxing access to the internet. do you think you should have to pay a nickle everytime you log in to the government??? I dont
        • do you think you should have to pay a nickle everytime you log in to the government???

          Gee, I wish I had a login for the government...

        • It's also about internet-only services.

          Texas has such a tax, for example. When my wife and I played World of Warcraft, we had to pay the monthly (or quarterly, whatever) subscription charge and a tax on the service. People in most other states don't have to, because Texas has had its take on internet-only services like that from before 1998.

          Before WoW, my wife and I played EverQuest, except she started her account when we still lived in Tennessee. Even after we moved to Texas, her account was never subje

        • by geekoid (135745)

          I think a tax is a great way to add to the infrastructure. IT's a great way to help balance out revenues lost from higher fuel economies.

          People look and complain about the Speeds i the US compared to other countries and complain. Ignoring that other countries tax in order to get high speeds infrastructure.

          This gimme more and don't tax me attitude needs to end.

      • Pretty much all infrastructure is taxed, why should the Internet be different?

        Other infrastructure, such as bridges and sewers, are taxed because THE GOVERNMENT BUILT THEM. So they are taxed to pay off the bonds that financed their construction, and to pay for ongoing maintenance. The Internet runs on fibers, cables, and routers financed by private companies. It is a different situation.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by squiggleslash (241428)

          No, railroads, phone lines, and electric wires are not (usually) in the US built by the government. Try again.

          • by ichthus (72442)
            I don't think he mentioned railroads, phone lines or electric wires in his post.

            Try again.
    • You can be sure that it wasn't Democrat-sponsored and opposed by (at least a few) Republicans. Otherwise that would be in the summary.

      From the article: "The House, in a voice vote Tuesday, passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, over the objections of some Democrats."

    • by jfengel (409917)

      It was sponsored by over 200 people on both sides. It passed by a "voice vote" which means they didn't track exactly who voted for it or against it, but it was overwhelmingly positive. I gather that a few Democrats voted against it, mostly on the grounds that some states tax it and need it as a revenue source (it's a Republican thing to believe that collecting less taxes somehow magically decreases deficits rather than increasing them), but mostly, it's hard to vote against a tax cut in an election year.

      Bec

  • This is a law. Like all laws, it is automatically superseded by any later laws passed.

    This "permanent" ban is valid only until Congress passes a law allowing (or mandating) a tax on internet access, and is automatically voided by such a law.

    In other words, this is a waste of time, and it doesn't matter in the slightest if this dies in the Senate, is vetoed by the President, or just burned in effigy....

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is the "until a later congress decides otherwise" extension of a law that was passed in 1998 with a "only so long as congress re-affirms it every ~4 years" clause. The only part of it that was heavily debated in the house was some democrats arguing that it should be a campaign issue every couple years and some other democrats arguing that their constituents are sick of seeing it come up every 4 years and want it permanent. Republicans argued about what it meant in regards to states' authority to tax

    • I thought the exact same thing, but the summary seems to say that it does change one thing: states that currently have taxes on Internet service are no longer allowed to have them. The word "permanent" is a bit weird, but apparently it only means "does not require annual renewal".
      • Two things:

        If the law that this law is replacing accomplished the same thing but required annual renewal, then no States will have taxes on internet services.

        Unless this is a matter in Interstate Commerce (admittedly, it's probably an easy case to make, but then automobile sales are a matter of Interstate Commerce, and are taxed by the several States), the Federal Government actually has no jurisdiction to tell the States they can't pass their own laws.

    • Except that this one law from Congress makes sure that 10,000 municipalities cannot enact a tax on internet service.

      So it is not a waste of time.

  • Franchise Fee $4.91, FCC Fee $0.09, Total fees $5.00 per month. For TV and Internet.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @03:01PM (#47469115) Homepage
    in 1998 there was a sizeable movement to declare internet access a 'basic human right' and as such, make it an entitlement. Since republicans and conservatives alike respond to the word Entitlement in much the same way as a microwave responds to a sack of paper clips, its safe to say this legislation was enacted to ensure your internet remains permanently comcastic. so how did this come to pass?
    the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), following a proposal by the government of Tunisia during ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis in 1998, approved Resolution 73 to hold a World Summit on the Information Society and put forward it to the United Nations. It cant be stressed enough that 1998 was clearly a better year for congress as is evidenced by the fact that legislators got wind of the WSIS and its strong position on internet as a basic human right. Much like affirming things like the kyoto protocol and the basic human right to water, the internet was sandbagged in america to ensure it would never amount to something as horrifying as a free service. amending it recently simply extended its reach to local governments. It did now however close a loophole being exploited by local municipalities in which the 'tax' for their paid services like WiMAX and municipal broadband was bundled under things like vehicle registration fees (something used by local governments that need to fund schools but have politicians who promise no new taxes.)

    by shitting on the idea of a tax for internet service, congressional republicans have created a two-tier system in america in much the same way as education and housing exist. underprivileged or poor students and families seeking internet access are now relegated back to the library, and those libraries in turn forced to shovel federal dollars into the gaping maw of AT&T and Verizon for something that, yes, is increasingly more of a basic human right in the 21st century.
    • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @03:38PM (#47469511) Homepage Journal

      As was previously pointed out, there is nothing in this bill to prevent PAYING FOR Internet services out of tax revenues, only that services can't be arbitrarily made more expensive by local governments, states, and the Federal government itself. There's also nothing preventing municipalities from building networks and Internet services - and they can charge for that service just like anyone else. They just can't charge a service fee AND a tax.

      So your rant is based on a false premise.

      To use your phrasing, it says we don't want governments shitting on the idea of having Internet access without paying a tax for the privilege.

      • by umghhh (965931)
        I think they still can - the ban is on tax if they introduce a fee this is allowed then. Problem solved.
      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        The typical phone and cable bill in the US includes on average a $4 levy by your local city/state. These are easy taxes for the localities to pass. Congress anticipated localities using "internet" taxes to try to balance budgets and banned them before many could pass them (even though a few got them passed before congress could act). This tax ban should have been made permanent years ago and waived those localities that jumped at the opportunity and put taxes in place. It specifically prevents cities from t

        • These are easy taxes for the localities to pass.

          Then they should be eliminated, or at least made more difficult to pass. WTH?

          We need a straight up progressive income tax with no exceptions, deductions, credits or waivers.

          Well we already have the most progressive tax system in the world, but you're right, it needs to be flattened, and the vast majority of those deductions, exceptions, etc. NEED to be eliminated. There is a MAJOR issue with the complexity of the current tax code. This desperately needs fixing, and no one is even talking about it.

          If they need more money let them raise the base tax. This BS where they tax every little thing and service is grossly unfair and tends to disproportionately shift the tax burden to the middle class/poor and excessively harms the poor.

          Exactly this.

    • How exactly is someone who has trouble getting enough to eat going to pay the expense required to exercise this "right" you claim that they have? You do not have the right to require someone else to provide you with something.
  • why am I charged sales tax on the streaming part of my netflix account?
  • Hopefully the Senate will follow right away and they won't try to kill it with stupid politics.
  • continue driving the country towards become a cesspool of ignorance.
    Anything to stop funding of key programs.
    I think this show they are attacking any non rich person in the country, and we shouldn't stand for it. It's class warfare, and the rich are winning.

  • Municipalities should be allowed to build their own networks. I guess the ISPs are afraid of their competition.

    The Internet does not deserve any special tax privileges. If my phone service can be taxed, so could my Internet service. Goods brought on the Internet should also be subject to the same sales taxes as goods bought locally, because, otherwise, Internet stores have an advantage.

    That being said, I hate sales taxes because they are so regressive. I also despise that income is taxed differently. Wages

  • Our city imposes (suckered the voters into approving) a 3% tax on utilities - comm, power, gas, ... - and has for several years. I think that includes internet service (which is pretty steep around here). My wife and I have been fighting this law and its renewal. (It is driving businesses out of the city - they can cut their costs substantially by relocating just over the line - and thus both blighting the city and cutting other tax revenue.

    I think I need to do a little checking to see if they ARE taxing

  • When Harry Reid refuses to bring this to the floor of the Senate... and all the lib/progs scream that it's those evil House Rethugnicans who are the party of "No"

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