The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Times Have Changed

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Once there was a time when 30-page college papers were typed on portable electric typewriters, research was done in library stacks, and job applications were filled out by hand.  Taxes were filed on paper and mailed (postmarked no later than April 15th) at the local post office, and shopping meant going to the local market and buying what was available at the store.  How times have changed.

The Internet has become a driving force in our economy, as Americans increasingly use services provided online to perform research, shopping, and education.  Not only are they using computers to perform these tasks, they are using wireless devices such as Smartphones, tablets, and laptops to access the Internet anytime and anywhere.  Tax returns and job applications are now submitted online, and an increasing number of schools insist their students use the Internet to perform research, take tests, and email their homework to their teachers.

The Internet has become a major factor in the economy, bolstered in 1998, when Congress placed a moratorium or ban on multiple and discriminatory taxes as well taxes on Internet access.  As noted in CAGW’s recent report, Telecom Unplugged:  Ushering in a New Digital Era, this moratorium, known as the Internet Tax Freedom Act was extended three times in 2001, 2004, and again in 2008.  The most recent extension expires on November 1, 2014.

As the expiration of the current moratorium closes in, it is time to extend the moratorium permanently.  On April 10, 2014, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste was among a group of diverse organizations across the political spectrum to co-sign a letter to Congress expressing why passage of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 3086) and the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (S. 1431) is critical to our nation.

It is unknown what future innovations will come about as use of the Internet expands, but one thing to consider, as noted in CAGW's report, is that among the many problems with taxing the Internet is when something becomes more costly, people will engage in less of it.  Those using the Internet should not have to worry about whether they will need to pay additional new taxes for accessing the Internet for school work, shopping, emailing, or even to file their tax returns.  Yet, that is what they face should the moratorium be allowed to expire.

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