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PacTech applauds Sen. Wyden’s leadership on ITFA renewal

By: Tom Gurr, Executive Director, PacTech

I think we entered the Age of the Internet a long time ago.
We live in the age of the Internet. It almost goes without saying that Internet is central to our daily lives. Connectivity is a seemingly seamless part of our existence. Today it would be hard to imagine a world where the Internet isn’t at the center of everything from healthcare and education to the business world. The Internet is at once a lifesaving technology, a gateway to business opportunity and a social network.

As this essential tool continues to permeate the American lifestyle—in terms of both access and adoption—we should think back to the early days of widespread Internet access and consider, for a moment, the policies that helped us build the vibrant innovation economy that we reap the benefits of today.

Way back in 1998, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden was leading the way as an advocate for smart policies that sped Internet adoption. In writing and championing the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), Sen. Wyden ensured that state (or even local) governments couldn’t create a laundry list of taxes on Internet access. These taxes, because they apply to the use of an essential commodity, are often thought of as “regressive,” disproportionately impacting those who can least afford it.

The ITFA has now been extended five times, and over the years, PacTech has stood with Sen. Wyden in support of efforts to ensure we don’t add extra layers of taxation to Internet services. (In fact, we wrote a post on a similar topic, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, nearly two years ago.) But after five battles to extend what is now an assumption in the digital economy, that access itself can’t be taxed by every entity under the sun, isn’t it time to make our decision permanent?

The U.S. Senate seems to think so. Led by our own Sen. Wyden and his colleague, Sen. John Thune, a bipartisan coalition of nearly 40 Senators has stepped up in support of the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, a piece of legislation that would end the annual uncertainty of extending this policy one more year and ensure that consumers’ internet bill never begins to look like a cell phone bill, with its laundry list of included taxes and fees.

We’re lucky to have a staunch advocate in Sen. Wyden—we know that we can count on his leadership to ensure that the amazing progress we’ve made in terms of Internet access and adoption isn’t reversed. We stand with Sen. Wyden and his colleagues in supporting the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act.

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