Congress just passed ITFA, ending Internet access taxes forever

By: Peter Davidson
Rich Young
T. 202.515.2514
Congress just passed ITFA, ending Internet access taxes forever

Since the legislative dam broke with last year’s budget deal, Congress has been on a tear. Today’s Senate passage of HR 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, marks another major accomplishment. In addition to the pro-growth trade provisions, that bill contains a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). That’s right – permanent, as in forever!

Indeed, a strong bipartisan majority in Congress has just done what seemed impossible a short time ago: agreed to permanent tax relief for millions of Internet users.

When it comes to Internet policy, policymakers from both parties support the twin goals of boosting broadband adoption and keeping Internet access services affordable. In 1998, Congress passed the original ITFA, banning state and local jurisdictions from imposing telecom taxes (which can exceed 20% in some jurisdictions) on broadband services. To put this in perspective, a family with several Internet accounts would pay an additional $300 per year without ITFA in place. This popular policy has been repeatedly renewed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities over the past 17 years, but Congress has been unable to make this pro-consumer tax policy permanent, even though everyone seemed to be in agreement about its importance. Until today.

And our employees agree, too. Through Verizon’s employee advocacy program, more than 20,000 employees sent over 56,000 e-mails to their Members of Congress letting them know that making ITFA permanent was not only important to them, but to the millions of Verizon customers who subscribe to our Internet access services.

We are very grateful for the tenacity and leadership shown by ITFA Senate sponsors, Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and also to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for facilitating Senate passage. We’d also like to thank Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) for their tireless work on permanent ITFA in the House, which passed in December of last year. When the President signs this bill, hundreds of millions of American Internet users will be protected from Internet access taxes – wait…did I mention… forever!

Peter Davidson is responsible for federal legislative affairs and global public policy at Verizon. Before joining the company, Davidson served as general counsel assisting the United States Trade Representative in negotiating and implementing trade agreements and supervising litigation at the World Trade Organization. Prior to becoming general counsel to the USTR in February 2001, Davidson was vice president for Congressional Affairs at Qwest, coordinating all federal legislative activities for that company.