I oppose, and have always opposed, taxing the information flow and access to the Internet, as well as multiple and discriminatory taxes on commerce. I would have voted “yes” on HR 3678, the Internet Tax Freedom Amendments Act of 2007, which extends the moratorium on these taxes through 2014. In fact, I intend to join 152 other Congressmen and women, including Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), in co-sponsoring HR 743 which is called the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act.
As a CPA and small business tax specialist, I believe that the Internet is a valuable tool to build both business and personal networks. It should be left unfettered from new and crippling taxes that would curb communications between people or unfairly discriminate against commerce in any form, including over the Internet.
Ironically and sadly, on the very same day that National Taxpayers United of Illinois Executive Director Jim Tobin recognized me with their “Friend of the Taxpayer” Award for the third time during my career for having the best anti-tax-increase voting record in the Illinois State Senate, and on the same day that we released an important position paper on significant tax reform, Jim Oberweis tried to distort my clear record and smear my good reputation for fighting tax increases over the past 15 years. As Vice-Chairman and Minority Spokesman on the Illinois State Revenue Committee for a decade and a half, I have earned the trust of my Republican Senate colleagues and constituents for having the guts to say “no” to tax increases.
In 2005, I proposed a property tax freeze for all homeowners similar to Proposition 13 in California from 26 years ago (click here for “Opportunity for Constructive Action”). Generally, this proposal would have frozen property tax assessments at their current levels at that time and in the future at the acquisition price of a home when it is purchased. In order to make this huge tax benefit to all homeowners practical and acceptable, the current sales/use tax would be merely clarified and consistently applied to all retail purchases whether they are made in person, over the phone, or on a computer. It included a specific provision that explicitly repealed a tax on DSL Internet access. The proposed legislation further made clear that the amendments did not increase tax rates whatsoever and that they were not to expand the definition of the types of personal property subject to the Use Tax Act.
I stand firm in my belief that it is basically unfair and inconsistent that a local merchant must charge me sales tax when I buy a shirt at his/her store and that I’m charged sales tax on that shirt if I order it over the phone, but if I use a computer to order it over the Internet - - then no sales tax applies. In Illinois, this unfairness and inconsistency represents $600 M to $1 B being launched somewhere into cyberspace. My proposal contained no expansion of what items are covered in the sales/use tax, and it was a net tax decrease. Initial estimates of what homeowners would have saved on my property tax assessment freeze were nearly twice that amount, or $2,000,000,000!
I believe that Jim Oberweis recognizes the tremendous net tax savings inherent to this reasonable proposal, but he tries to twist people’s understanding of its benefit for his political gain. After spending more than $7,500,000 in three losing primary campaigns, you would think he would study the facts more carefully before destructively attacking successful and respected conservative policymakers.
As one commentator pointed out, “Instead of misleading people about Lauzen’s position on the federal bill, maybe Oberweis should take the time to understand the state bill Lauzen sponsored and then explain just what exactly his position is on that - - especially since it concerns part of his business’ operations”. Another questioned, “… Does Oberweis just not understand the issue(s) here, or is he being willfully dishonest and misleading”?
Mr. Oberweis’ calculated rhetoric is no match for the truth of my record as a tax reform advocate. He once again has demonstrated that some people will say anything, do anything, or spend any amount of money to win an election. It’s up to all of us to make sure that he doesn’t get away with it.