Today, the Senate voted to keep internet access tax free – permanently.
If that feels like a small achievement, it’s not. Taxing internet access has been barred by law since 1998. However, over the last 20 years, the prohibition wasn’t a permanent law: it was a moratorium. To keep the moratorium in place, Congress had to extend it. And extend it again. So they did so in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2014 and a series of band-aids through 2015 – eight times in total.
In 2015, the House finally approved H.R. 235, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which “amends the Internet Tax Freedom Act to make permanent the ban on state and local taxation of Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.” A companion bill, the S.431, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, was read in the Senate but as of the end of last year, went nowhere.
Eventually, the measure was tacked onto the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (downloads as a pdf – and it’s big). That bill passed the Senate today by a vote of 75 to 20 and the White House has signaled that President Obama will sign it into law.