We have been visiting and revisiting the issue taxing access to the Internet almost since the World Wide Web first became a part of our lives and it’s up before Congress again.
If there is anything that hurts commerce it’s uncertainty, so it’s high time that Congress acts to make permanent its ban on state and local governments’ ability to tax access to the Internet.
This is especially critical for the health of small businesses – both current and future – because the Internet has become vitally important in this area for several reasons:
- The Internet has proven to be one of the easiest places for an entrepreneur with little money to start a business,
- Small business owners use their Internet access to provide them with the infrastructure tools and marketing channels to compete successfully with larger enterprises,
- The Internet has become one of the most effective ways small businesses can communicate with customers to resolve issues, and
- As mobile devices become even more important, all of the above three points are magnified.
Karen Kerrigan, president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, has been following the current legislation in Congress and she reports that a few Republican senators have put a bump in the road on its way to passage by attempting to tie it to the unrelated issue of taxing e-commerce.
“It does not make sense to tie this measure – which has wide bipartisan support – to a controversial Internet taxation bill. The bill to keep Internet access tax-free has nothing to do with the other issue, despite what its supporters claim,” she says.
Currently the issue is included in a conference report that the Senate should act on soon.
As Kerrigan points out, the Internet access tax ban has bipartisan support; it would be a very positive step for the Senate and Congress as a whole to enact this legislation. It would help clear the clouds that obscure our vision of what the online future looks like for small businesses and startups.
Further, it would be a breath of fresh air to see both houses of Congress and both political parties cooperate to make a single bold move that is in the best interests of our country.
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