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Editorial: Running to Stand Still - Broadcasting & Cable

Editorial: Running to Stand Still

Moratorium on Internet access taxes should be permanent
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It is time to pass a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes. Local governments can be forgiven for looking for revenue under every rock, but if the goal is to promote broadband adoption, and the FCC and Obama Administration have made clear that is their prime communications directive, taxing it is not the way to go.

It looks as though Congress will probably extend the current temporary Internet Tax Freedom Act renewal for a few more months along with funding the government so it doesn’t shut down. Have we said lately this is no way to run a government? If not, consider it said.

So, the baseline would be to kick the can down the road, which is better than letting it lapse. But the best way to keep from having to do this every few months, and before that every few years (since the bill periodically sunsets) would be to make it permanent.

That may mean taking a phase-in approach to the states whose access taxes were grandfathered in when the bill was first passed in the late 1990. But if we can put a golf cart on Mars, we can accommodate that change without blowing up the local economies.

The permanent ITFA (Independent Television Film Alliance) bill has already passed the House but was held up in the Senate, partly because of pressure to combine it with a bill that would allow for new taxes on Internet sales. That would be a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, and should be rejected.

It is time to pass a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes. Local governments can be forgiven for looking for revenue under every rock, but if the goal is to promote broadband adoption, and the FCC and Obama Administration have made clear that is their prime communications directive, taxing it is not the way to go.

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