Internet Tax Working Its Way To Louisiana

Ars Technica:

Louisiana residents may find themselves paying an extra fee on top of their regular Internet costs if the state’s House of Representatives has its way.

The House voted 81 to 9 in favor of the 15-cent monthly levy with the bill’s sponsors arguing that the money would go towards fighting Internet-related crimes in the state.

The bill now moves to the state’s Senate for a vote, though it faces opposition from Republican Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

Under the proposed measure, every resident who gets a bill for Internet access will be charged the fee starting in 2010; public schools and libraries are exempt.

The move is expected to raise $2.4 million for the “Internet Crimes Investigation Fund” of Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office, which plans to use the money to investigate cases of child pornography, Internet fraud, and other online sex crimes.

According to the text of the bill, it would also train law enforcement how to properly handle crimes committed against citizens as a result of their having Internet access.

There’s also the small technicality that the “fee” may be interpreted as a tax. If it’s a tax, it could potentially violate the federal Tax Freedom Act that was enacted in 1998 and most recently extended in 2007 for seven years.

It bars local governments from levying access taxes on Internet connections, though purchases can be subject to applicable state taxes.

The law is meant to promote Internet usage and facilitate wider-spread adoption of broadband across the US.

Photo by MSDesigns.

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