Internet Tax Freedom—at Last

It’s been a long, hard slog, but we can report some good news from Washington. On Thursday the Senate finally passed—and the White House said the President intends to sign—a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

After a series of short-term extensions since the ban was enacted in 1998, federal law will now protect against state and local governments imposing taxes on Internet access services or email. Politicians across the country have been poised to soak Internet use in its multiple forms, but now they will have to get some future Congress to repeal this ban.

Thursday’s triumph is thanks in large part to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who steered the bill toward enactment as part of a larger customs bill and persuaded opponents to stand down from their effort to hold the Internet tax ban hostage. We thought we had this done late last year.

But Sens. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) held the tax ban hostage to try to pass a bill that would allow states to impose taxes on Web sales. That’s a separate issue that should be debated separately, and we’re told Mr. McConnell has promised the Senators a vote. Fine with us, though we doubt their legislation would get through a GOP House.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), who co-authored the original law with then-Rep. Chris Cox, has been laboring ever since to keep the tax ban in place. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) have been stalwart as well in protecting online consumers from the predations of tax collectors.
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