Senator Ron Wyden Calls 'Baloney' On Claim That Title II Will Increase Taxes On Your Internet Bill: 'I Wrote The Law'

from the i'm-guessing-baloney-was-something-else-before-that... dept

We recently wrote about a very questionable study that argued that if the FCC does, in fact, reclassify broadband under Title II, it would lead to "$15 billion in new taxes" on your broadband bill. That number was bullshit. It conflated a bunch of different and totally unrelated things, and pretended that they were connected to reclassifying under Title II. In fact, most of the "taxes" in the report were attributed to the expiration of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (which put a moratorium on internet access taxes at the local level) which was set to expire this month(no matter what happened with the FCC). And, as part of the Cromnibus agreement, Congress agreed to extend the moratorium on taxes until late next year (when it will almost certainly be extended again). And with that, poof, almost the entire claimed $15 billion disappeared -- having absolutely nothing to do with the Title II decision.

To put an exclamation point on this, Senator Ron Wyden (also, an occasional Techdirt contributor) released one of the best statements you'll see from a politician, literally calling "baloney" on the tax claim, and noting that he wrote the damn law, so he knows what it covers -- and pointing out that the moratorium applies whether or not broadband is classified under Title II:
I wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act. So I want to set the record straight about the false claim being peddled by opponents of net neutrality. They are saying things that aren’t true to try to stop the FCC from acting to protect the free and open Internet.

The claim: If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet access as a “common carrier” under Title II, consumers could be stuck with new taxes by state and local governments.

In a word: Baloney.

The facts:

  1. Net Neutrality is not going to invalidate the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).
    My colleagues and I knew people would try to tax the Internet if they could. So in ITFA Congress broadly defined the term “Internet access.” It is illegal to tax the internet. Under Title II or otherwise. The FCC could define the Internet as a series of tubes and ITFA would still prohibit taxes.
  2. The “grandfather clause” in ITFA will not allow cities to suddenly open the Internet up to telecom taxes. If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet, it will not change if states taxed Internet access before 1998. The FCC has broad authority, but it cannot rewrite history.

The bottom line: The Internet Tax Freedom Act will protect the Internet from taxes regardless of how the FCC defines Internet access.

The opponents of the open Internet aren’t quitting. But the good news: neither are we.

And yet, somehow, don't be surprised if this ridiculous tax myth lives on...
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Filed Under: net neutrality, taxes, title ii


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 6:24am

    +Points for "Series of Tubes"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 7:23am

    Shills

    Curious if that same shill will show up from the last story claiming that never mind all those pesky facts, taxes will go up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 7:58am

    what a shame that Wyden cant actually state the truth as to who really wants to stop the Title II reclassification, the entertainment industries, and the reasons why they desperately want to stop it!
    for a long time, these industries have been encroaching further and further into how they want the internet to be, ie, their own, personal distribution channel which would save them a fortune in the ways they 'show movies now' but, in getting that control, they will then charge everyone for access. whether that charge would be for accessing the internet or just for accessing their sites remains to be seen. every single thing they have done has been to erode the way things have been set up and how the people can be penalised for accessing copyrighted content on the net and be punished. they got the copyright crimes reclassified as criminal rather than civil, they got the fines for committing the crime of downloading and sharing the files up to astronomical levels that bankrupted some people, then got these 'crimes' to have greater jail terms than the likes of robbery, burglary and rape. and these punishments were all granted by 'bought and paid for politicians' who are in bed with the entertainment industries, receiving constant 'encouragements' and campaign donations, in return for getting these ridiculous punishments enacted.
    now those same industries have a bit more of a fight, having seriously pissed off Google, the problem being that those same politicians mentioned above have been slagging off Google too, probably under orders from the industries, who want Google to be a much smaller entity than it is. reducing the size will also reduce the power, so when that happens, the entertainment industries will go after the couple of other internet giants but with a serious win under their belts, because the fighting power of Google was reduced, would be cock-a-hoot and expect their friends in Congress to just wave through whatever was wanted. once that happened, the shit would really hit fan! not just from the people who would be livid on what had happened but also from those same politicians who, too late, would realise what complete fuck ups they had made in destroying the one thing that, if left as it was meant to be, how it was first given to us, that could have probably saved us by giving us such technological advancements worldwide, we would be light years ahead of where we are now, which, incidentally, we have been stopped from improving by the entertainment industries and their total rejection of allowing anyone to do anything that may help anyone, including those same industries! now tell me the sense in that if it wasn't to prevent their own plans from coming to fruition!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Adam (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:27am

    My god, nothing screams flat tax like a bunch of grown children arguing over taxes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Aaron Wolf (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 4:06pm

      Adam is a [insert offensive term relating to lacking intelligence]

      Gosh, I don't like being an aggressive asshole. I feel like being one though.

      Article: propagandists make lots of lies to scare people, but Senator calls them on their bullshit

      Adam: thus we need a flat tax! (oh, and throw in implication that Senator above is childish)

      Can you say non sequitur? No, I need some more aggressive rejecting term for Adam's comment. It's um, so, you see, there's evil propagandists and then there's someone calling them out. Ok? Calling that a childish argument is, well, so, it's like an intentional desire to destroy normal intellectual thought.

      Person A: The Sun goes down in the *east* and after that, it dries up until morning when it gets colorful again and rises out of the sea.

      Person B: That's wrong in so many ways, it's total horse shit.

      Adam: Lookit Person A and Person B, grown men arguing like children. This obviously calls for a flat tax!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:34am

    I love this guy. It's becoming increasingly hard to support the view of the ISPs but when one of the guys that wrote the law calls them for their bs with a one-word then it gets actually silly to keep going. But we've learned not to underestimate the ISPs when it comes to lying to the public, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:52am

    Trademark Pending

    "I was trying to reshape the net-neutrality narrative and all I got was a spanking from a US Senator."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:08am

    Where there's a will there's a way they won't tax us but I'm sure they add some surcharges and delivery charges, as honorable as Senator Wyden is the government always seems to want to reach a little deeper into your pockets.If assurances could be made that these bogus charges wouldn't be levied after the fact i'd be 100% sold , though i do like the idea of title II over the current business model.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      If you think the government would be the one slipping in those charges, might want to re-think that a bit, the ISP's have a history of doing just that, slipping little 'extras' to pad out your bill without telling you.

      'Fastests speed in the state, just $39.99* per month!'

      *Listed price does not include the $40 installation fee, $10/month modem rental fee, $20/month 'Screw you' fee, and $5/month 'Because we can' fee. Extra charges may apply, you'll find out when you get the bill.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:56am

    Just because he wrote the law, he's supposed to be some sort of expert on what it means? Doesn't he know that anonymous Justice Department lawyers and even more anonymous NSA counsel (who may or may not exist - their existence and employment status has not been confirmed or denied by the NSA) are the true arbiters of what the law means? It doesn't matter what it says it means. It means what the Justice Department wants it to mean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 10:13am

    Grandfather clause

    The “grandfather clause” in ITFA will not allow cities to suddenly open the Internet up to telecom taxes. If the FCC reclassifies broadband Internet, it will not change if states taxed Internet access before 1998.
    It's not clear what this is trying to say. In states that didn't tax internet access before 1998, it may change? Is it meant to say the reverse, that it can only be taxed by states who were already taxing it before 1998?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 11:17am

      Re: Grandfather clause

      It's not clear what this is trying to say. In states that didn't tax internet access before 1998, it may change? Is it meant to say the reverse, that it can only be taxed by states who were already taxing it before 1998?

      I'm not certain, but it sounds to me like the law has a clause that allows the continuation of taxes instituted before 1998.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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