International Municipal Lawyers Association - Local Government Blog

THE CELL TAX FAIRNESS ACT OF 2009 | March 24, 2009

Posted By:  Adrian Herbst, The Baller Herbst Law Group, P.C.

A bill that would ban new “discriminatory” taxes on mobile phone services and property has been reintroduced in Congress.  The Cell Tax Fairness Act of 2009, a version of which was introduced but failed to pass in both 2008 and 2007, would impose a five-year moratorium on the enactment of any new “discriminatory tax” by local or state governments on “cell phones services, providers, or property.”  It was reintroduced just last week as H.R. 1521 by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ).  A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate.

The Act apparently does not preempt existing state or local tax measures applicable to mobile telephony services.  It only would affect new taxes to the extent that they are “discriminatory,” that is, not imposed generally, or imposed at a lower rate, for other tangible personal or commercial property or for “persons that are engaged in businesses other than the provision of mobile services.”  According to Rep. Lofgren, “The Cell Tax Fairness Act does not take away any existing revenue for state or local governments, it simply calls for a period of tax stabilization.”

The bill defines “tax” as “any charge imposed by any state or local government for the purpose of generating revenues for governmental purposes.” 

The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. 

While the bill is obviously supported by the cell phone industry – and its powerful lobby – we expect the bill to face opposition from a wide variety of parties, likely including state and municipal governments and their representative organizations.  Interested representatives of communities who would like to have further information or updates concerning this legislation are encouraged to contact us.  We will continue to monitor this legislation, assist municipalities desiring to participate in the deliberation process, and otherwise provide updates as may be requested. 

Click the following link for text of the Bill: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1521/show

Click the following links for recent articles:http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-10200106-85.html; http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2009/03/5-year-ban-on-higher-cell-phone-taxes-proposed-again.ars


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This blog is made possible by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), but may include guest bloggers (who are attorneys with experience in local government matters) who might or might not work for IMLA. Their views (and those expressed on this site) do not necessarily express the views of IMLA.

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