July 14, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s "Wireless Tax Fairness Act" on a unanimous voice vote. This bi-partisan, pro-consumer legislation provides for a 5-year moratorium on any new discriminatory wireless tax or fee. On average, wireless customers now pay 16.3% in taxes and fees, more than twice the average rate of 7.4% on other goods and services. In many localities, this cumulative tax burden is even worse: 26.8% in Baltimore, 19.9% in Omaha, 18.2% in Tallahassee, and 20.4% in New York City. The Wireless Tax Fairness Act would halt this trend by imposing a temporary, five-year freeze on new taxes that are imposed only on wireless services. Wireless broadband access is rapidly becoming a key platform for innovation, and this legislation will help foster further investment and access in this key market. Importantly, it does not take away any existing revenue from state or local governments, as it will only apply to future discriminatory taxes. An amendment to the bill, offered by Rep. Lofgren and approved by the committee, would exempt local wireless devices with direct voter approval from the moratorium.
“Wireless connectivity is fast becoming the simplest and easiest route to the Internet,” noted Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “If we hope to compete in the interconnected global marketplace of tomorrow, the government needs to encourage the deployment and adoption of wireless broadband. In many places, the taxation of wireless approaches or even exceeds the rates of sin taxes on goods like alcohol and tobacco. This legislation simply freezes existing discriminatory wireless taxes to help foster wireless networks as a platform for innovation and jobs growth.”