Gubernatorial Candidates Asked to Support Ban on Internet Taxes

By John Rossomando | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - A taxpayers' group is asking the gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey to safeguard Internet usage from taxation with a 17-word pledge.

The pledge, sponsored by the Association of Concerned Taxpayers (AOCTP), asks Mark Warner (D) and Mark Earley (R), the nominees for governor of Virginia, and Jim McGreevey (D) and Bret Shundler (R), the New Jersey candidates, to pledge, "As governor I will veto any legislation that comes across my desk that will tax the Internet."

New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states conducting regular elections for governor this year.

The pledge is modeled upon a tax pledge designed by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, according to AOCTP Spokesman Dwight Patel.

Patel said AOCTP is concerned that states will begin taxing Internet usage the same way they tax telephone service once the current federal Internet tax moratorium expires.

"This (moratorium) is more or less a safety net," said Patel. "The moratorium may not be renewed, and it then falls to the states."

The Warner campaign indicated that it had not yet seen the AOCTP pledge, but it said the candidate supported keeping the Internet tax moratorium in place. "Mark does support the current moratorium on Internet taxation," said Mo Elleithee, press secretary for the Warner campaign.

The Earley camp likewise indicated the Republican's support for continuing the moratorium on Internet usage. "I can certain tell you that (Early) doesn't favor taxing Internet sales," a representative of the Earley campaign said.

The McGreevey and Shundler campaigns in New Jersey were contacted, but telephone calls were not returned.

AOCTP is concerned that taxing business on the Internet could have a potentially negative impact on the economy. "We feel that the Internet should be kept tax free [because] right now it is in its infancy, and any tax would crush the Internet," Patel said. "It would force those on fixed incomes -- seniors, veterans, the working poor -- off of the Internet."

Meanwhile, AOCTP said the group is hoping that Congress will adopt bills introduced by Rep. Chris Cox (R-N.J.) and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) that would make the moratorium on Internet taxation permanent.

President Clinton signed into law a three-year moratorium on Internet taxes in 1998. Many so-called "bricks and mortar" retailers oppose the moratorium, however, saying it gives Internet retailers an unfair advantage.