Today, CTIA and seven of the largest wireless companies in the U.S. expressed strong support for the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. Collectively, CTIA and those major carriers serve more than 95 percent of America’s 325 million wireless subscribers. In a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who co-sponsored the bipartisan bill with Representative Anna Eshoo, the wireless industry leaders urged Congress to enact the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act before the current moratorium on Internet access taxes expires on November 1, 2014. The proposed legislation would make the current ban on Internet access taxes permanent.
As I discussed in my October 15 Perspectives, Internet access has remained essentially free from tax burdens due to the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998, which prohibited any state or political subdivision from imposing Internet access taxes. Since its enactment, the Act has contributed to nearly 15 years of economic growth and Internet investment, development, and adoption.
By enacting the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998, Congress recognized the importance of facilitating Internet access, and made it more affordable for consumers to go online. Failure to ban the imposition of taxes on Internet access will deter investment, slow innovation, and impose unnecessary costs on consumers.
The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act offers an opportunity for Congress to act in a bipartisan way on an important matter for the benefit of all Americans. It is noteworthy that the largest wireless carriers in the country signed the letter sent to Congressman Goodlatte by CTIA. Although the large carriers who signed the letter often disagree on other issues like spectrum management or auction rules, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Cellcom and Bluegrass Cellular expressed their united support for a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes.
The enactment of a permanent ban on Internet access taxes provides one way to help ensure continued affordable access to this important resource, as well as to promote U.S. leadership in the global economy and the economic success of the digital marketplace.