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Senators aim to extend ban on Internet access tax

The Internet Tax Freedom Act is due to expire in November 2014, but two senators want to extend it indefinitely.

A couple of senators in Washington want to make sure people in the U.S. never have to pay taxes for Internet access.

Passed in 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act prevents federal, state, and local governments from collecting sales taxes on the use of e-mail and other types of Internet access. The bill is due to expire November of next year.

New legislation introduced yesterday by Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) is designed to extend the ban indefinitely. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act would stop governments from imposing new taxes on Internet access.

"Nevadans and every American should be able to access the Internet without penalties from the federal government," Heller said in a statement. "The Internet Tax Freedom Act will ensure a long-standing federal policy that prevents the government from raising taxes, and preserves the Internet as a tool for education and innovation."

The bill also aims to prevent the abuse of taxes on online purchases by prohibiting "any multiple or discriminatory taxes" on such purchases.

"E-commerce is thriving largely because the Internet is free from burdensome tax restrictions. Unfortunately, tax collectors see it as a new revenue source, and they must be stopped," Ayotte said in a statement. "This legislation will provide certainty to the marketplace, helping the Internet continue to be a driving force for jobs and growth."

The issue of taxing online purchases has been a dicey one for years.

Some states impose sales tax collection on certain retailers. But Congress has yet to pass any national legislation.

A bill called the Marketplace Fairness Act would give states the ability to collect sales taxes on online purchases. That bill has been floating around Washington for a while but has yet to come up for a vote.

Ayotte and Heller are members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has authority over Internet policy, according to the Hill.