Lawmakers once again introduce wireless tax moratorium bill

Lawmakers in Congress introduced legislation for the third consecutive congressional session that would put a limit on the taxes states and local governments can levy on wireless services. Although this kind of legislation has drawn continuous support from the CTIA and specific wireless companies, the bills have not yet become law.

The bill, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act of 2011, was introduced in both the House and the Senate, by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and in the Senate by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Olympia Snow (R-Maine). The bills would bar state and local governments from imposing new taxes that the bill's sponsors term discriminatory or redundant.  The lawmakers are also concerned that wireless taxes in many states exceed those of similar services, and the fact that some states have imposed wireless taxes that exceed those on luxury and vice goods and services.

The CTIA once again threw its support behind the bills, which have drawn a total of 140 co-sponsors so far. "In light of today's challenging economic conditions, it is hard to understand why the average wireless consumer is being charged more than 16 percent in taxes and fees when other taxable goods and services are only 7.4 percent," CTIA President Steve Largent said in a statement. "When you add the fact that policymakers are looking for ways to make affordable broadband accessible for all Americans, it's incomprehensible why 47 states and the District of Columbia charge their wireless consumers a rate that exceeds the general rates for other taxable goods and services."

Similar legislation was introduced in 2008 and 2009, but the bills died in Congress. The last time similar legislation was in the spotlight was last September when a House Judiciary subcommittee voted to approve the Cell Tax Fairness Act. A hearing on the bill is set for March 15.

For more:
- see this CNet article
- see this BroadbandBreakfast article

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