Congress votes to permanently ban local internet taxes

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. State and local governments would be permanently barred from taxing access to the Internet under a bipartisan compromise the Senate began pushing toward final congressional approval. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Many Americans will soon no longer pay local or state taxes to access the internet.

Congress voted 75-20 in favor of permanently banning taxes on internet access, and now only needs President Obama’s signature to become law.

“Allowing taxes on internet access would be a very regressive policy,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said. “It would especially hurt working class families.”

Wyden authored the original bill banning taxes on internet access in 1998. Back when the bill was first passed, at least seven states already taxed internet access and were grandfathered into the program.

Congress has since passed the bill 11 times, and each time, allowed those states to keep taxing internet access.

In 2013, Texas, brought in $358 million by taxing internet access. Other states that use the practice include North Dakota, Ohio, Hawaii, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

Under this new proposal, all those states will have to end those taxes.

“States may be forced to raise other taxes,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) said. He delivered a speech on the Senate floor on his fears a permanent ban could put local governments in a tough position.

“As a former mayor and state legislator I understand how important sales tax revenue is to state and local governments for maintaining schools, fixing roads,” he said.

Wyden said he is sympathetic to the states who now must change their policy, but not sympathetic enough to exclude them from the permanent ban.

“They have been grandfathered into this proposal essentially for another four and a half years,” Wyden said.

Under this proposal, all internet taxes would be banned by 2020.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

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