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NTU Urges Senators to Vote “Yes” on Customs Bill and to Make Internet Tax Ban Permanent

by Clark Packard / /

NTU urges all Senators to vote “Yes” on the Conference Report to H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act and to oppose any attempts to remove the bill’s most important provision – a permanent ban on Internet access taxes.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act Conference Report would make a number of sensible policy changes to modernize our customs processes. Specifically, the bill would reduce paperwork requirements for certain shipments and goods returned to the United States and streamline the Custom and Border Patrol’s automated system.

While these are prudent changes, regrettably the Conference Report places too much emphasis on misguided attempts at trade enforcement, including antidumping provisions, which are nothing more than veiled protectionism of politically favored industries. Still, conferees deserve credit for wisely rejecting other provisions that could have triggered a trade war and increased the cost of goods for U.S. consumers.

Though NTU would have preferred the Conference Report to include a clear path for advancing Miscellaneous Tariffs Bills (MTBs), we are pleased that Congress has indicated a commitment to creating such a path in the future, in compliance with House and Senate rules regarding earmarks. MTBs are an important and effective tool to strengthen American manufacturing.

Of particular importance, the Conference Report includes the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA). Since 1998, Congress has barred state and local governments from imposing new or discriminatory taxes on Internet access. This decision has helped create and sustain a flourishing and dynamic environment that has brought advanced communications to millions of Americans. The Conference Report would make permanent the ban on state and local governments imposing taxes on Internet access, which will be enormously positive for American taxpayers and the continued vibrancy of the Internet.

Despite certain ill-advised policies, the Trade and Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 contains a number of extremely positive provisions that will benefit taxpayers and spur innovation.

Roll call votes on H.R. 644 will be included in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress and a “Yes” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer proposition. Further, NTU urges all Senators to oppose any point of order aiming to strip the critical PITFA provision. Any such votes will be heavily weighted in our scorecard.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Policy and Government Affairs Manager Clark Packard at (703) 683-5700