Reps. Zoe Lofgren & Trent Franks, Introduce Bipartisan Wireless Tax Fairness Act
Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) today introduced H.R. 2309, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act. This bipartisan, pro-consumer bill would place a 5-year moratorium on new taxes or fees for wireless services. On average, wireless customers pay 17.2% in taxes and fees, largely imposed on the state and municipal levels. Not only do rising wireless taxes hit a growing number of consumers, they also fall disproportionately on lower-income and working Americans who tend to rely more exclusively on wireless devices for telephone and Internet access and therefore pay a greater percentage of their income in wireless taxes. With wireless broadband access rapidly becoming a key platform for innovation, the legislation introduced today will help foster greater access and investment in this key market by halting discriminatory and increasingly onerous tax treatment.
"Wireless connectivity is becoming the simplest and easiest route of choice to the Internet, but instead of encouraging that we're burdening it with taxes," Rep. Zoe Lofgren said. "This bill is needed to hit the pause button and stop these arbitrary taxes from increasing. By doing so, we'll bring needed stability to the wireless marketplace for customers to choose their services based on merit and need so we can see these platforms of innovation and job growth expand."
The average 17.2% in taxes and fees wireless customers now pay is more than twice the average rate of 7.4% on other goods and services. In many localities, this cumulative tax burden is even higher: 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. Importantly, the legislation does not take away any existing revenue from state or local governments, it simply pauses taxes and fees at the current rate.
The legislation, which can be viewed by clicking here, is backed by 145 cosponsors as of its introduction, signaling the strong bipartisan support for the measure. Similar legislation introduced in the previous Congress was passed overwhelmingly by the U.S. House of Representatives in November, 2011.
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