House OKs 5-year freeze on cell taxes [The Associated Press]

The House on Tuesday approved a five-year freeze on any new state and local taxes imposed  on cellphones and other wireless services, including wireless broadband access.

The voice vote reflected a consensus that new taxes on wireless mobile services have far outpaced average sales taxes on other items and have become a deterrent to the spread of wireless broadband technology.

“We need to encourage the development and adoption of wireless broadband, not tax it out of existence, ” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the sponsor of the legislation.

Her office said wireless customers pay 16.3 percent in taxes and fees, more than double the average rate of 7.4 percent on other goods and services.

The bill prohibits state and local governments from imposing new discriminatory taxes on mobile services, providers or property–cellphones–for five years. The only lawmaker to speak out against the bill was Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. , who said it was a special interest measure for the wireless industry that was opposed by state government associations and organized labor.

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