Consumers, businesses could be taxed for Internet usage - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Consumers, businesses could be taxed for Internet usage

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Being taxed to use the Internet is something that could be hard to see happening, but it was an idea lawmakers played with back in the 90s.

They eventually voted to make Internet usage tax-free. Now, the bill that makes surfing the web free is expiring.

The 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act has kept state from imposing any taxes on individual Internet uses with the exception of online sales through websites like Amazon or Etsy. Because of that, Internet access has grown exponentially according to lawmakers. It's the reason you have free WiFi at your local coffee shop.

Until this year, Internet providers were required by the Federal Communications Commission to make sure everything was streamed at the same speed. However, the idea of "net neutrality" could go away.

That means programs like Netflix and Hulu, which use massive amounts of data to streams movies and shows to televisions and computers, would likely have to pay more to Internet providers if they want to keep streaming them quickly. Those added costs would be passed to you as a consumer.

The most recent bill, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, cosponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by South Carolina Congressmen Tom Rice and Joe Wilson aims to keep access to the Internet tax-free. According to Rice, the bill passed in the House last week. However, Rice's secretary says that the bill still has to pass the Senate.

Right now, the FCC is still debating this topic. You can voice your opinion on net neutrality including an online petition to the FCC here.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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