End of Internet Tax Will Boost Real Estate

March 11, 2016

Ten states today levy what are known as Internet access taxes.

That might come as a surprise to many people, since the taxes are largely invisible.

They’re levied on companies like Verizon and Comcast, the Internet service providers (ISP) that manage the infrastructure through which Internet traffic flows. These companies pass the taxes on to consumers in the form of higher fees.

Back in 1998, Congress limited the taxes to just the 10 states—Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin—by passing the Internet Tax Freedom Act. Since then, Congress has gone back and reauthorized the law every few years, because the original ban was only temporary.

That will change now. Congress just a few weeks ago passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, and, as the name implies, makes further bans unnecessary. What’s more, the 10 states that levy the taxes will have to stop by June 30, 2020. The National Association of REALTORS® has been one of the biggest advocates for making the ban permanent and ending the taxes because of the importance of the Internet to the industry.

Other top real estate stories featured in the video include:

Photo copyright risk management: This has become a major issue in real estate because of the ubiquity of property photos online. What do you do if a copyrighted photo shows up on your website through a feed or by other means? If you’re found in violation of someone’s copyright, the penalty can be big: as much as $150,000. But there’s good news here. A law has been on the books for some time that provides liability protection. But you have to put a process in place to make it work.

NAR’s latest contract signings numbers: They’re down a bit, but NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun doesn’t think the dip signifies much, given how weak economies around the world are right now. The weak economies have dampened the U.S. economy, yet contract signings are holding up remarkably well, he says.

Making international connections: NAR and eight associations of REALTORS® are hosting a big booth at the upcoming MIPIM conference in Cannes, France to boost the interest of investors around the world in U.S. commercial and residential properties. About 100 real estate professionals from around the country are going, hoping to make connections with investors in other countries.

—By Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine