State, Local Governments Are Eager to Tax the Internet

Published December 1, 2007

Since the federal Internet tax moratorium was first enacted nearly 10 years ago, local and state government officials have sought to retain the power and latitude to tax the Internet by opposing efforts to make the ban permanent.

The National Governors Association was among 10 organizations to sign a September 26 letter to the Senate Commerce Committee in support of a watered-down extension, S. 1453.

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Taking a cue from state leaders, representatives of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have testified before Congress arguing a permanent ban on Internet access taxes would place an undue burden on state budgets.

“[T]he ban imposes revenue losses and a loss of revenue capacity on states and local governments, and is not paid for,” testified Mark Murphy, a fiscal policy analyst for AFSCME, last May. He added the ban is “costly to state and local governments and of questionable value to the greater public, it risks unintended consequences for a broad range of state and local revenue sources.”

Phil Kerpen, policy director for Americans for Prosperity, countered, “It is an egregious distortion of reality to imply that banning a tax that has not been and should not be levied is costing states money.

“This unquenchable thirst for tax dollars underscores the difference between government officials and the American public, a vast majority of whom favor unfettered, untaxed access to the Internet and the opportunities that it provides,” Kerpen said.

Annie Patnaude