By Jordan Mitchell |Staff Writer|
Seven states are now permanently banned from taxing residents for
The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) was passed by the Senate on Feb. 11.
“It was a big win for those of us who’ve been fighting to preserve net neutrality but we’re going to have to stay vigilant on this,” said Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.
The bill will force all states currently taxing Internet access to eliminate the taxes by the summer of 2020, according to US News.
While Congress has known about the ITFA, some members of the general public were not aware of its existence.
“I didn’t even know they taxed the Internet before. I don’t think it’s fair to tax Internet use. How can anyone measure the usage of it?” said student Angelica Gaubatz.
“It would really suck because our generation is always on the Internet and I am not sure if that would make a difference on how much we use it,” continued Gaubatz.
The bill was originally signed into law in 1998 as a three year moratorium, a temporary prohibition of an activity.
The bill, however, included a grandfather clause allowing states to continue taxation provided that the tax had been enforced before Oct. 1, 1998.
The Congressional Research Service reported that Congress passed multiple extensions of ITFA, a total of five times.
The law will also ban taxes on digital goods and services and will end the extensions of the tax prohibitions, according to NBC News.
“Net neutrality has been the architecture of the Internet from the very beginning. It’s about all content on the Internet being treated the same,” said Franken.
“Over 4 million Americans submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than double the number of comments that have ever been submitted to the FCC on any other issue. Vast, vast majority for continuing net neutrality,” added Franken.
Seven states currently taxing Internet use are: Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin, making a combined $563 million yearly on the tax, according to US News.
Cleveland.com reported Ohio will lose $65 million annually in Internet taxes.
“While $65 million is not a huge amount in terms of the overall state budget, it certainly could pay for important services… think of how many teachers that would pay for,” said Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters Ohio.
Some people think cutting the Internet tax will force states, such as Ohio, to raise prices on Internet goods, causing shoppers to cut back on how much they buy.
“The only thing I can think about being a draw back is that the state of Ohio’s residents will feel like it’s too high and costly to buy things online. Financially, the suspension of Internet purchases can open up a different can of worms,” said student Hazel Ceron.
The bill passed with a vote of 75-20 in favor of the ban, according to ABC News.