Senator Ron Wyden Calls 'Baloney' On Claim That Title II Will Increase Taxes On Your Internet Bill: 'I Wrote The Law'
from the i'm-guessing-baloney-was-something-else-before-that... dept
We recently wrote about a very questionable study that argued that if the FCC does, in fact, reclassify broadband under Title II, it would lead to “$15 billion in new taxes” on your broadband bill. That number was bullshit. It conflated a bunch of different and totally unrelated things, and pretended that they were connected to reclassifying under Title II. In fact, most of the “taxes” in the report were attributed to the expiration of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (which put a moratorium on internet access taxes at the local level) which was set to expire this month(no matter what happened with the FCC). And, as part of the Cromnibus agreement, Congress agreed to extend the moratorium on taxes until late next year (when it will almost certainly be extended again). And with that, poof, almost the entire claimed $15 billion disappeared — having absolutely nothing to do with the Title II decision.
To put an exclamation point on this, Senator Ron Wyden (also, an occasional Techdirt contributor) released one of the best statements you’ll see from a politician, literally calling “baloney” on the tax claim, and noting that he wrote the damn law, so he knows what it covers — and pointing out that the moratorium applies whether or not broadband is classified under Title II:
I wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act. So I want to set the record straight about the false claim being peddled by opponents of net neutrality. They are saying things that aren’t true to try to stop the FCC from acting to protect the free and open Internet.
The claim: If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet access as a “common carrier” under Title II, consumers could be stuck with new taxes by state and local governments.
In a word: Baloney.
- Net Neutrality is not going to invalidate the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).
My colleagues and I knew people would try to tax the Internet if they could. So in ITFA Congress broadly defined the term “Internet access.” It is illegal to tax the internet. Under Title II or otherwise. The FCC could define the Internet as a series of tubes and ITFA would still prohibit taxes.
- The “grandfather clause” in ITFA will not allow cities to suddenly open the Internet up to telecom taxes. If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet, it will not change if states taxed Internet access before 1998. The FCC has broad authority, but it cannot rewrite history.
The bottom line: The Internet Tax Freedom Act will protect the Internet from taxes regardless of how the FCC defines Internet access.
The opponents of the open Internet aren’t quitting. But the good news: neither are we.
And yet, somehow, don’t be surprised if this ridiculous tax myth lives on…