By Caroline Holland
Moratorium Extended on Internet Taxes
House Republicans have long favored a permanent or long-term ban on Internet taxes as a way to stimulate technological growth. Instead, House Judiciary Committee Democrats recently voted for a four-year moratorium. The current moratorium was set to expire Nov. 1. If this was allowed, Americans could be taxed up to 20 percent for simply accessing the Internet.
The measure favored by the committee bans state and local taxes on Internet access and extends the moratorium until November 2011. The extension also allows Congress to make necessary adjustments during the four-year period. It also extends grandfather provisions including taxes imposed prior to 1998 and phases out states that claim to be grandfathered as a result of the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act of 2004.
Finally, it includes an exemption for states that have enacted laws in which their gross receipt taxes are a substitute for corporate income taxes that do not involve Internet access. After review in the Committee, the House passed H.R. 3678 by a 405-2 vote.
House Bill 3678 is available on the Automotive Service Association's legislative Web site, www.TakingTheHill.com.
Congress Stops IRS from Using Private Collectors
The House has voted to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from using private contractors to collect debts.
The authority to use private collectors was granted in 2004 and has since been targeted for repeal by Democrats. Democrats argued that collection of taxes is an essential government function that can be more effectively run through the IRS.
They also claim that some taxpayers have been the victims of abuse by private collectors. Furthermore, Democrats believe this is an issue of efficiency and not privatization. Republicans, however, believed that the ability to outsource to private companies helps the IRS to collect more back taxes.
The House recently voted 232-173 to halt the use of private collectors by the IRS.
EPA, FHWA Launch Near-Roadway Study
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are set to begin a new near-roadway pollution study. This study will help influence the EPA's plans to move to a multi-pollutant approach to air quality management and to potentially force analysis of mobile source emission hot spots under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Initial results of the study have already prompted the installation of filters in a school air-conditioning system that dramatically reduced recorded levels of particulate matter inside the school building, which was found to be higher than levels near the roadway.
The studies are taking place in Las Vegas, Detroit, and Raleigh, N.C. The EPA's Office of Research & Development is using the study as a prototype for the kind of analysis it will begin to conduct more frequently. As part of its most recent research plan, the office will begin addressing a multi-pollutant approach rather than the single pollutants as they have in the past.
The results of the study could also lead to mandatory assessments of pollution hot spots created by road-building projects.
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