by Steve Watson
June 4, 2007
Recent proposals in the U.S. Congress are taking
a huge swipe at freedom in America once again by aiming to impose multiple
different forms of crippling taxation and restriction on users of the
State and local governments this week resumed a push to lobby Congress for
far-reaching changes on two different fronts: gaining the ability to impose
sales taxes on Net shopping, and being able to levy new monthly taxes on DSL
and other Internet-service connections. One senator is even predicting taxes
on e-mail, reports CNet.
Several bills were introduced last week that could see all manner of new
forms of internet taxation become a reality before the end of the year.
Sen. Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, introduced a bill (PDF link)
for mandatory sales tax collection for Internet purchases, meaning that if
through online sites like eBay or Amazon.com, you might have to start paying
additional sales taxes on your purchases.
The Libertarian party has warned that the bill represents more big
government intervention and that while Enzi insists the bill "would not
increase taxes," the Sales Tax Fairness and Simplification Act would
open the door for states to charge sales tax on Internet sales.
In contrast to his statement, the C-Net article
states that Enzi warned that other taxes may zoom upward if his "mandatory
sales tax collection" bill isn't passed.
In a second and separate proposal during a House of Representatives hearing
last week, politicians weighed whether to let a temporary ban on internet
access taxes lapse when it expires on November 1.
Such a move would leave open the possibility that simply using the internet
would require a tax to be paid which critics suggest could sound a death
knell for broadband, DSL and "always on" high speed internet.
Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia compared the move to
taxing people for simply entering shopping malls or libraries. With the U.S.
economy already under considerable strain, taking a huge swipe at
e-commerce, one of its cornerstones, seems like the worst possible thing
Congress could do.
Furthermore, allowing taxation on internet access represents a slippery
slope towards opening up the possibilities of taxing all kinds of internet
"They might say, 'We have no interest in
having taxes on e-mail,' but if we allow the prohibition on Internet
taxes to expire, then you open the door on cities and towns and states
to tax e-mail or other aspects of Internet access," said Sen. John
Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican.
An email tax would certainly suit both the
government and internet providers who would likely get a cut. Last year it
was revealed that AOL is planning to charge mass-emailers a fee to avoid the
ISP's spam filters and guarantee that their marketing emails arrive straight
in AOL subscribers' inboxes. Yahoo! is also endorsing the scheme.
Under such a system email considered "uncertified" would risk running
through AOL and Yahoo!'s discrimination process. And as this potential
profit center for the two net giants takes off, there's no incentive for
either company to deliver the "free email" - and every incentive for them to
get the world conditioned to paying for guaranteed delivery.
A United Nations agency also proposed in 1999 the idea of a
1-cent-per-100-message tax, indicating that the idea has been floating
around for almost a decade.