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Congress Is Expected To Pass Internet Tax Ban Thursday

February 11, 2016, 5:37 PM UTC
Obama Outlines Policy For Open And Free Internet
Network cables are plugged in a server room on November 10, 2014 in New York City.
Photograph by Michael Bocchieri—Getty Images

Congress is expected to approve a ban on state and local Internet taxes on Thursday.

The bipartisan provision, which is part of a larger trade bill, is up for consideration by the Senate Thursday before it can be passed for approval to President Obama. If the bill passes, the seven states that currently tax internet access would have to stop by 2020, according to the Associated Press.

Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have collected a total of more than $500 million in taxes on Internet access annually, the AP reported. The taxes are carried out similarly to taxes on phone bills.

Taxing the Internet has been banned on a continual but temporary basis since 1998, but states with taxes that predated the bans were allowed to continue levying them.

The broad trade bill, The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, was approved by the House of Representatives in December, according to The Hill. While banning internet taxes is largely bipartisan, the trade bill has seen some detractors in Congress. Some Democrats have criticized the bill for providing flimsy trade protection.