Harry Reid

Harry Reid: Taxing the Internet

When the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) earlier this week by voice vote, there was reason to hope (yes, hope!) that the Senate would do the same.  Nothing is ever easy in Harry Reid’s Senate, though.  CQ (sub. req’d) is reporting Reid is unlikely to take up the uncontroversial House-passed measure:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is supporting plans in a new bipartisan proposal that would package authorization for states to enforce online sales taxes together with another proposal to provide a 10-year extension of the ban on Internet access taxes that expires Nov. 1. 

The measure (S 2609) by Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., combines a continuation for 10 years of the soon-to-expire temporary ban (PL 110-108) on Internet service levies with provisions of a Senate-passed Enzi proposal (S 743) to authorize states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state online vendors. 

Enzi said in an interview that Reid made the case behind the scenes for including an extension for 10 years, instead of a permanent extension of the Internet service tax moratorium. “That’s what Sen. Reid put in,” Enzi said. 

Reid told reporters Wednesday, “We’ve had a number of meetings on that today, and … we’re trying to figure out a way to go forward. I think it’s fair to say that the two of them are going to be together. They’re not going to be separated.” 

Rather than pass a permanent ban on taxing Internet access, Reid wants to enact a temporary ban PAIRED with massive new taxing authority for state and local governments.

On Tuesday, Heritage Action’s Michael A. Needham warned against that strategy, saying, “The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act should not be held hostage to Washington special interests seeking to advance unpopular proposals such as an Internet sales tax.”

Reid’s approach is a non-starter in the House and likely with many of his Senate colleagues.  If Americans suddenly find their Internet access taxed later this year, they’ll know who to blame.

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