OPINION: Your Internet Bill Is Going Up 20 Percent If Democrats Get Their Way

(Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

Katie McAuliffe Executive Director, Digital Liberty
Font Size:

You’ll pay 20 percent more for home internet and mobile data if the Democrat-pushed “Save the Internet Act” passes. And that is on the low end.

The recently introduced Democrat bill masquerades as net neutrality, while using legal gymnastics to throw all Americans’ internet bills into an upward spiral through taxes and fees. The bill would classify internet service providers as a telecommunications service, opening the door for thousands of tax-hungry jurisdictions to tax the internet.

Right now, you only pay taxes and fees on mobile voice service, not data use. At home, you only pay taxes and fees on the television portion of your cable bill. You do not pay taxes or fees on home internet. Look at your bill. If you are an internet-only household, you will definitely see the difference.

A Democrat White House and Republican Congress understood the importance of the internet to people’s lives. In the 1996 Telecommunications Act, they defined the internet as an information service, not a telecommunications service. Congress wanted the internet to continue growing so the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act passed as a short-term reprieve from taxes on internet access and was continually reauthorized on a short-term basis until the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act was signed into law in 2016, which made the internet access tax moratorium permanent.

Because the internet is legally defined as an information service, and not defined as a telecommunications service, state and local governments cannot apply fees and taxes to your data services.

That brings us to today’s Democrat bill. Nancy Pelosi’s deceivingly named Save the Internet Act redefines the internet as a telecommunications service under Title II and exposes our data use to taxes and fees that both the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act banned.

Your internet bill will go up at least 20 percent. Twenty percent is the average fee Americans pay on their mobile or home voice options, aka telecommunications service. That fee is only applied to the voice portion of your bill, but now it will expand to data. Not only will your mobile phone bill go up but so will your home internet bill.

To make matters worse, these fees can be automatically added to your bill at the state and local level without a vote because it is merely a definition change from information service to telecommunications service.

That means an additional $240 a year on a mobile bill that is $100 per month, and an additional $360 per year on a home internet bill that is $150 per month. That’s an extra $600 a year — on the low end because states would be able to tax your internet access too.

If the Save The Internet legislation passes, state and local governments could apply sales or other taxes on wireless and home data access, not just voice service.

Most states impose higher taxes on wireless service than other taxable goods and services. In 2018, Illinois had the highest wireless taxes in the country at 27.6 percent, followed by Alaska at 26.1 percent, Washington at 26.1 percent, Nebraska at 25.5 percent, and New York at 25.2 percent. Right now, those taxes only apply to the voice portion of your bill. If any form of Title II, so-called net neutrality, passes it will apply to your entire bill — voice and data.

The “Save the Internet Act” is not net neutrality. Title II regulations are not net neutrality. Proponents of the Save the Internet Act speculate that without Title II, internet bills will go up, but under Title II regulations bills will go up and that is not speculation.

There is a reason why Democrats are so obsessed with Title II regulations as the only path to net neutrality — taxes, and a whole lot of them.

Katie McAuliffe (@DigitalLiberty) is federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform and executive director of its affiliate, Digital Liberty.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.