Senate Passes 7-Year Internet Tax Ban Extension

Tod Hunter
WASHINGTON — The Senate by a voice vote approved legislation Friday that would extend the moratorium on state Internet access taxes for seven years. The bill is viewed as a compromise between lawmakers who proposed a shorter extension and those who wanted it to be permanent.

Internet service providers claim the price of Internet access could rise by as much as 17 percent if the moratorium on state taxes were allowed to expire.

The current state tax ban has been in place since 1998 and was renewed by Congress in 2004 for three years. The present moratorium, which is set to expire Nov. 1, does not apply to states that established Internet access taxes before the ban was passed in 1998.

"By keeping the Internet tax-free and affordable, Congress can encourage Internet use for distance learning, telemedicine, commerce and other important services," Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said in a statement Thursday.

The House of Representatives approved a four-year extension of the Internet tax ban on Oct. 16.

The two chambers must work out their differences on the two bills and pass a final version to be signed by the president.

The House and Senate have been considering a number of bills to extend the ban by various amounts of time since May.