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Congress Passes Law Permanently Banning Internet Taxes

In a 75-20 vote Thursday, the Senate agreed to place a permanent ban on state and local Internet taxes.

A provision in a larger bipartisan customs bill – the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act – that would force states to phase out the tax by 2020.

Congress had passed a number of temporary bans since 1998, but this bill, which the White House confirmed will be signed into law, would bar the levy for good.

While most states don’t impose the tax, there are still a handful that do. Currently, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin all still collect Internet taxes –taking in around $563 million annually, the Associated Press reports.

“Students use it to research school projects and papers,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech ahead of the vote. “Entrepreneurs use it to help run their businesses and come up with new ideas. Families use it to manage their busy schedules and stay in touch with relatives. It’s important that they be able to do all of this without the worry of their Internet access being taxed.”

The House passed its version of the measure last year, which was applauded by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Internet Tax Freedom is one of those provisions that we’ve been extending every year in fits and starts,” he said in his weekly press briefing. “Americans should not have to worry about something as vital as this being taxed by any government at any level. So now, we are banning taxes on your internet access for good.”

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