Two U.S. senators have introduced legislation that would permanently extend a current moratorium on Internet access taxes in the country.
The Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, introduced Thursday, would also extend the U.S. ban on other taxes specific to the Internet. The legislation does not ban taxes, such as sales taxes, that can be levied on the Internet if they can also be levied on offline activities.
The legislation, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, would extend a temporary Internet-only tax ban that Congress passed in 1998 and extended three times. The moratorium, which Wyden originally pushed for, is scheduled to expire Nov. 1, 2014.
The original Internet Tax Freedom Act promoted Internet access across the country, Wyden said in a statement. Under the tax moratorium, "the Internet became a platform to facilitate global commerce, sparking nothing short of an economic revolution," he said. "It facilitated the development and growth of the digital economy and has created new industries and the good-paying jobs that come along with them."
Several companies and trade groups praised the legislation. "The legislation introduced today will provide a permanent and predictable tax environment for businesses to grow, and promote further broadband adoption in all parts of America," Tony Russo, vice president of federal legislative affairs for T-Mobile USA, said in a statement.
Also on Thursday, a group of Internet and telecom companies, trade groups and consumer groups formed the Internet Tax Freedom Act Coalition to lobby for a permanent moratorium.
Coalition members include Amazon.com, AT&T, Comcast, CTIA, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Time Warner Cable, T-Mobile, U.S. Telecom and Verizon Communications.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.