House Passes Bill to Ban Internet Taxes

Published November 1, 2003

Managing Editor’s Note: On September 17, 2003 the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 49, the Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act, to permanently ban Internet-only taxes. Representative Christopher Cox (R-California), chairman of the House Policy Committee and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, released this statement following the vote.

I am proud to be the author of the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act, which created a national moratorium on multiple and discriminatory Internet taxes, and I’m proud to be the author of the bill approved by the House today to make this moratorium permanent. I commend my colleagues in the House for passing this important legislation.

Today, Republicans and Democrats have come together to say that no matter how we might choose to fund government services, we all agree that it would be counterproductive to create new taxes that target the Internet, which are harmful to consumers, destructive to technological innovation, and bad for our economy.

Today, the great news that we share with all American consumers is that you will be fully protected from taxation no matter how you choose to access the Internet–dial-up, cable modem, DSL, satellite, wireless, or some pathway yet to be invented.

The case for taxing Internet access has never been weaker. There’s no question that we all benefit from more and faster Internet connections, bringing us countless educational, commercial, and cultural opportunities. A January 2003 UCLA study reports that consumers now rank the Internet as their single most important source for information. Widespread adoption of high-speed Internet connections would add an additional $500 billion to U.S. gross domestic product in each of the next 10 years, according to a recent study.

New taxes would make Internet access even less affordable, and discourage the adoption of broadband connections. Punishing Net users with a new monthly tax on Internet access, whether dial-up or broadband, should not be anybody’s idea of pro-consumer policy.

This legislation will help keep Internet access affordable. In many areas, the difference between dial-up and broadband is ten dollars a month. If ten dollars a month is already a barrier for people to embrace broadband, adding an increment on top of that is only going to keep the digital divide wide open.

Representative Christopher Cox (R-California) is chairman of the House Policy Committee and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He authored the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act.