11 Aug Is Wisconsin a Technology Leader or Laggard?
We are deeply concerned and troubled about the editorial titled, “End tax moratorium on Internet services” that appeared in last week’s Wisconsin State Journal (08/07/03). Wisconsin is only one of ten states that is able to tax this channel of distribution and growing industry. The notion of putting unnecessary tax burden on emerging industries is just plain bad business. We need to encourage the growth of the technology and life science industry in Wisconsin. From tourism and manufacturing to retail and biotechnology, all are benefiting from the growth of the internet. If this precedent is set, it will impact our future ability to loosen regulations that are a burden to all Wisconsin businesses.
On the Federal level, U.S. Senator George Allen’s (R-VA) bill (S. 150) to permanently extend the moratorium on Internet access and discriminatory taxes was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee at the end of July, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate this fall. The current moratorium is set to expire in November. Senator Allen’s legislation will permanently ban taxes on Internet access, as well as taxes on Internet transactions by multiple jurisdictions, and discriminatory taxes that “unfairly target Internet transactions.” Allen is joined by Commerce Committee leaders, Senator Ron Wyden. (D-OR), Senator John Sununu (R-NH) and Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) on this issue.
This bill would permanently ban such Internet taxes and update the definition of Internet access to include wireless, satellite and new advancements in technology providing access to Internet services. This issue is about the consumer’s ability to access the Internet.
“Given the current state of the technology market as a whole, a decrease in consumption resulting from Internet access taxes could destroy what glimmer of hope remains for many telecommunications and technology manufacturers,” said Senator Allen. “We want to help create job opportunities –not burden this important sector of our economy. For every dollar added to the cost of Internet access, we can expect to see lost utilization of the Internet by thousands of lower income families nationwide- and loss of their use of the Internet as a tool for education and income opportunity.”
We fully support this legislation and all efforts to prevent any new taxes for growing industries. We also encourage the Governor to support the immediate examination of the conduct of Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue. The Wisconsin Technology Network is getting numerous calls and complaints about a re-interpretation of Wisconsin’s tax code that is triggering an examination for back taxes, potentially due by numerous Wisconsin’s IT companies. In our interview with Senator Kanavas he confirms that this activity is taking place. If you or your company has been unfairly targeted, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s make Wisconsin a business friendly state and hold the line on any new taxes, especially those aimed at growth sectors of the economy. And let’s support efforts to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens on all Wisconsin businesses. I welcome your comments and feedback.