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US Anti-Tax Coalition Proposes Ban on E-Taxes

Tax-news.com

15 November 1999


The e-Freedom Coalition, a collection of anti-tax and consumer groups has presented its plan to limit taxes on e-commerce to the US Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce (ACEC) The key recommendation of the proposal is that the US Government's current three-year ban on new "discriminatory" e-commerce or Internet access taxes should be made permanent.

The e-Freedom Coalition proposal also recommended:

  • a permanentl ban on electronic commerce taxes;
  • a permanent ban on Internet access taxes, including the prevention of "Internet tolls" by prohibiting governments from charging more than the cost of telecommunications cabling installation along rights-of-way;
  • that the government clarify where companies are required to pay taxes on e-commerce (under the present laws a company can be taxed by two different states for one transaction);
  • county and municipal governments adopt a "pro-growth" formula to adjust sales and use taxes for Internet-related companies with "a substantial physical presence within the taxing jurisdiction" to help generate the revenue that communities claim is being lost from e-commerce's erosion of storefront sales;
  • the repeal of the 3 percent federal excise tax on telecommunications to encourage e-commerce infrastructure development;
  • the extension of discriminatory taxation protections to telecommunications;
  • the abolition of government-imposed fees for the installation of telecommunications cables;
  • a prohibition on governments from collecting individual consumer transaction data.

The e-Freedom Coalition's proposal has received the backing of ACEC Commissioners Dean Andal and Stan Sokul and US Congress Housing Budget Committee chairman John Kasich (who recently launched his own bill in the Congress for a permanent extension to the existing 3-year internet tax moratorium). The e-Freedom Coalition includes groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Alert, the Heritage Foundation, the National Taxpayers Union, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, and the Washington Institute Foundation.

With e-commerce expected to net $1.3 trillion a year by 2003, whatever the ACEC recommends to Congress will be hotly debated as state and local governments try to protect traditional revenue streams. State and local government officials have argued to the ACEC that the tax prohibitions discriminate against traditional 'bricks and mortar' businesses and will ultimately result in less money in state coffers for education, law enforcement, and other services. It is believed that groups such as The National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors are working on a uniform state law package to deal with internet taxation that is expected to be ready by December this year.

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