CAGW Names Sen. Dick Durbin January Porker of the Month

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) its January Porker of the Month for leading the effort to block a permanent ban on Internet access taxes.

In 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) placed a moratorium on Internet access taxes. With widespread bipartisan support, the Internet tax ban has been extended seven times.  For 18 years, the ban on Internet taxes has benefited millions of Americans by empowering them to conduct transactions on the Internet free from the fear of additional tax burdens.  The deadline for expiration of the current ban is October 1, 2016.

In order to both bring more certainty to Internet transactions and the overall economy, Congress has taken steps to pass a permanent ban on Internet access taxes for the past two years.  The House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) in both July 2014 and June 2015.  PITFA language was included in H.R. 644, The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (Customs bill), which passed the House on December 11, 2015.  The Senate is currently considering the Customs bill.

Despite affirming that a permanent ban is “sound policy,” Sen. Durbin is attempting to block its inclusion in the Customs bill unless the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) is also passed.  Supporters of MFA claim it would bring “equity” between the taxation of tangible goods sold in brick-and-mortar stores and items sold online.  On December 15, 2015, Sen. Durbin declared, “we will oppose any long-term extension of legislation that would take away a State’s right to collect taxes on accessing the Internet unless we give States the ability to collect taxes on Internet sales that are already owed.” 

Besides the obvious fact that PITFA reduces and prevents taxation while MFA would cause taxes to increase, Sen. Durbin apparently forgot that a solution already exists to collect taxes for online sales.  Forty-five states have “use taxes” on their books requiring individuals to remit the amount of the taxes they should have been charged to purchase items online.  So, in essence, Sen. Durbin is holding PITFA hostage to a non-issue.

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Making the Internet tax ban permanent is critical for the long-term health of the economy.  For the first time since the ban was instituted in 1998, PITFA would provide a much higher degree of certainty to individuals and business conducting transactions over the Internet.  Sen. Durbin’s ill-fated efforts to block this vital legislation are shortsighted and unfounded.”

For leading the effort to block a permanent ban on Internet access taxes, CAGW names Sen. Dick Durbin its January Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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