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It's Time to Permanently Ban the Internet Tax

October 16, 2007
Weekly Columns

Of all the inventions of this era, it is arguable that none have left a more significant impression than the Internet. Every day, hundreds of millions of people access the Internet to exchange e-mail, check their local news and make purchases. There is no question that the Internet has become a critical tool of commerce in the nation. In fact, a lot of Oklahomans are supplementing their income or running an entire business through the Internet. This tool has forever changed the global marketplace and provided countless small businesses a better way to connect with their consumers. And while access to this important venue has historically been free of taxes to access it, some lawmakers in Congress are refusing to call for a permanent ban on that type of tax.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted down an attempt to permanently ban Internet access taxes and instead recommended only extending the ban for an additional four years. But I believe it was a mistake to miss this opportunity to make the ban permanent. I do not believe that citizens should have to pay an additional tax because a tax of that sort would be akin to an individual walking into a shopping mall and being charged twenty dollars at the door before being able to look around the store. Our online economic infrastructure could suffer fallout if consumers had to face a charge to merely peruse their shopping options before making a purchase.

There is substantial support across the U.S. from consumers and business owners to make sure that Internet access remains tax free. And there is considerable evidence that a majority in Congress share this point of view. My Democrat colleague Anna Eshoo has introduced H.R. 743, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act and I am one of its 238 bipartisan cosponsors. I believe that House leaders need to bring this legislation or something similar to the House floor and vote to permanently ban taxes to access the Internet. The members of the Judiciary Committee who voted against banning web access taxes are out of step with the American people and out of step with their colleagues in the Congress.

History has demonstrated time and again that the best way to keep an economy strong is to keep taxes low. This is also true for the Internet marketplace. In order to keep this emerging marketplace thriving, Congress needs to use some common sense and make the Internet a tax free zone in perpetuity.