Katie McAuliffe

ATR Applauds DoJ’s Approval of T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, August 1st, 2019, 9:57 AM PERMALINK

The Department of Justice’s approval of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is a major step forward for our country. 

The New T-Mobile will be instrumental in helping the United States win the global 5G race. Together with Sprint’s mid-band spectrum and T-Mobile’s low-band spectrum, the company will develop a 5G network that will cover people nationwide. Within six years, this network will cover 99 percent of the population. This will help Americans across the country -- in rural areas and in cities -- stay connected online and participate in the digital economy. 5G will create new industries and employment opportunities because of its enhanced connectivity, with some experts estimating it will create 3 million jobs. 

By vigorously rolling out its 5G network, the New T-Mobile will incentivize other wireless carriers to do the same, solidifying the United States’ position as the global leader in technology. 

The merger also increases competition and benefits consumers by creating a larger third competitor to the two top wireless carriers, which will drive down prices and motivate all carriers to innovate and improve their services. T-Mobile and Sprint have already made considerable voluntary commitments for their new network, including a pledge to not raise prices for three years.  

Unfortunately, the government insisted that the two companies comply with extensive divestiture and behavioral conditions. In order to lay the groundwork for a fourth wireless competitor, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest key assets and provide access to network infrastructure to Dish Network Corporation. While the Department of Justice is well-intentioned, private companies should be able to merge and separate without government intervention or conditions. 

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division made a good call by approving the merger, which will be a big boost to both technological and economic growth.

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart


Democrats Attempt End Run Around Internet Tax Freedom Act

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, 1:14 PM PERMALINK

Democrat Bill Will Raise Household Internet Costs

House Democrats today introduced a bill to attempt an end run around the Internet Tax Freedom Act. The new Democrat bill, laughably called the Save The Internet Act, will raise household internet costs by about 20 percent.

"The Democrat bill labeled the 'save the internet act' is simply Washington empowering local government to raise taxes on the internet without even holding a vote," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Details:

- The Universal Service Fee currently only applies to telecommunications services such as voice communications. However, it is not applied to any data services such as home internet usage or mobile data. The Democrat bill would classify internet as a telecommunications service. This would allow federal, state, and local governments to impose the universal fees on your data connections.

- At the federal level, the fees are about 20 percent. In the 44 states (and the District of Columbia) that impose their own universal service fee, costs will be even higher. Government authorities will be able to impose this fee without a vote.

- Federal, state and local governments are barred from taxing the internet thanks to the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which was first enacted in 1998 and made permanent in 2016. But if Democrats legislatively re-categorize the internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, there is nothing stopping state, local and federal government from slapping the fees onto Americans’ internet services.

The real goal of Pelosi’s “Save the Internet” legislation is the extraction of funds from American households. Internet costs in your home and on your mobile phone will go up if Democrats have their way.

 

Photo Credit: SalFalko


ATR Urges Senators to Support the FIRST STEP Act

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Monday, November 19th, 2018, 4:57 PM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to the Senate asking all Senators to support the FIRST STEP Act. The full text of the letter is posted below. 

Dear Senators:

I write urging you to support the FIRST STEP Act, an important part of reforming America’s justice system.

Currently, there are 2.3 million individuals behind bars. Due to the increasing prison population from 1980 until today, spending has more than quadrupled from $17 billion to $74 billion. The rapid growth of prison spending puts legislators and law enforcement officials in a difficult position. The FIRST STEP Act applies proven solutions to move away from a justice system that encourages recidivism to a system that encourages rehabilitation.

Rather than simply warehousing offenders, this bill requires the Bureau of Prisons to create risk assessment tools to evaluate each inmate. Low risk offenders are then given the option of undergoing evidence-based programming to help break the cycle of criminality. Inmates earn time credits, which allows them to spend some time of their sentence in prerelease custody, an alternative for low risk offenders that not only helps them reintegrate into society under supervision, but also reduces costs to taxpayers.

The sentencing reforms that the Senate has discussed including in the FIRST STEP Act would mean that violent offenders are still punished and that low-risk, non-violent offenders receive sentences better suited for the crime. Public safety should be the first thought when the government determines who needs to stay and for how long. Some offenders need to stay behind bars for a long time, but that is not everyone – the punishment has gotten away from fitting the crime.

I encourage you to express your full support for these reforms with a favorable vote on the Senate floor. We can’t afford for the clock to run out on this important piece of legislation. Should you have any questions or comments please contact Katie McAuliffe at kmcauliffe@atr.org.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

 

Photo Credit: Kitsadakron Pongha


The Threat of Retroactive Online Sales Tax is Real

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Friday, September 14th, 2018, 2:36 PM PERMALINK

Retroactivity is a serious threat to all taxpayers, and especially out-of-state businesses with no real recourse in court or at the ballot box.

The Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act of 2018 introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wis.), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Congressman Jeff Duncan (R - SC) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) prevents retroactive taxation, establishes an orderly phase-in of compliance obligations, and provides a $10 million exemption for small business sellers, that lasts until the states produce a compact that Congress approves to simplify collection to the point where no small business exemption is necessary. 

At a Judiciary Committee hearing on life after the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision, Grover Norquist and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D- Wash.) had a heated back and forth over the status of Washington State’s retroactive tax practices.  She emphatically stated that “Washington state law does not allow for retroactive taxation on this issue.” Norquist was answering a question about the general propensity for states to tax retroactively, for online sales or otherwise, and sited an instance where Washington state pursued 27 years of retroactive taxes on Dot Foods after reclassifying a product into a new taxable category. The court recognized and upheld retroactive application of the amendment for 27 years, but justified it by saying that in practice it only affected the taxpayer, Dot Foods, for 4 retroactive years in Dot Foods v. Washington Department of Revenue. The court seems very supportive of retroactive taxes:  “Furthermore, there is no ‘absolute temporal limitation on retroactivity.’”

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4749407/grover-norquist-retroactive-taxation

However, at the time of the hearing, Washington state was actively pursing retroactive taxes for online sales. The Supreme Court did not hear the Wayfair case until April 17, 2018, and it was not decided until June 21, 2018. But Washington passed their online sales tax collection law on July 7, 2017 which required collection to begin January 1, 2018. They are now pursuing retroactive taxes from the time of the Supreme Court Decision to January 2018 even though the Quill physical presence standard was still the law of the land. Another remote seller nexus bill from 2017 applied retroactive taxes for all of 2015.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4749410/grover-congresswoman-jayapal

South Dakota did not begin tax collection before the Court heard their case, and the Supreme Court noted that non-retroactive tax collection was an important part of South Dakota’s legislation. Without Congressional clarification against retroactive tax collection other states, Massachusetts being one, will pursue retroactive taxes.

The following can be attributed to Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform:

“After the Supreme Court’s decision in Wayfair which told all Americans 'yes—you now can be taxed by politicians you do not elect and who act knowing you are powerless to object.' The Wayfair decision opens the door to taxation without representation not just on sales bust also on individuals, property and business income. Anything that limits the ability of one state to abuse taxpayers in another state is welcome.”

Photo Credit: 401 (K) 2012

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Americans for Tax Reform Supports the Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Friday, September 14th, 2018, 2:27 PM PERMALINK

The following can be attributed to Grover Norquist president of Americans for Tax Reform:

“After the Supreme Court’s decision in Wayfair which told all Americans 'yes—you now can be taxed by politicians you do not elect and who act knowing you are powerless to object.' The Wayfair decision opens the door to taxation without representation not just on sales bust also on individuals, property and business income. Anything that limits the ability of one state to abuse taxpayers in another state is welcome.”

 The Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act of 2018 introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wis.), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Congressman Jeff Duncan (R - SC) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) prevents retroactive taxation, establishes an orderly phase-in of compliance obligations, and provides a $10 million exemption for small business sellers, that lasts until the states produce a compact that Congress approves to simplify collection to the point where no small business exemption is necessary.

Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston

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Coalition Support for T-Mobile and Sprint Merger

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, June 27th, 2018, 9:08 AM PERMALINK

Today, a group of center-right organizations sent a letter to the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary supporting the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.  

As the coalition notes, the proposed transaction is consistent with existing antitrust law and will be greatly beneficial to consumers. This merger will drive competition and result in higher speeds and lowered prices for the consumer. With 5G technology actively being developed around the world, this merger will bolster America's standing in the global market.  

The following statement can be attributed to Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty: 

The combination of T-Mobile and Sprint does not reduce competition; it enhances competition by creating a stronger contender among the many companies offering broadband service. An internet connection is an internet connection, whether delivered over wires or airwaves. Together, T-Mobile and Sprint will be able to build a better broadband network using 5G technologies faster and that is good for Americans. 

You can find the full letter here and below 

June 26, 2018 

The Honorable Michael S. Lee  

United States Senate  

361A Russell Senate Office Building  

Washington, DC 20510  

 

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley  

United States Senate  

135 Hart Senate Office Building 

Washington, DC 20510 

 

The Honorable Amy Klobuchar  

United States Senate  

302 Hart Senate Office Building 

Washington, DC 20510 

 

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein  

United States Senate  

331 Hart Senate Office Building 

Washington, DC 20510 

 

Dear Senators Lee, Klobuchar, Grassley & Feinstein:  

We understand that the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing on June 27 to examine whether “the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint benefits consumers in a manner consistent with existing antitrust law.” We believe that the proposed transaction between T-Mobile US, Inc. and Sprint Corporation is consistent with existing antitrust law because it will be greatly beneficial to consumers and favor the transaction’s completion. 

This merger will promote healthy competition for broadband across the board, both wireless and wireline, in terms of prices, customer service, and deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) wireless network. This administration has its eye on a nationwide 5G network, and the best way for America to regain its lead is through competition.  

Their combination bolsters competitiveness in the wireless industry. While both T-Mobile and Sprint would, without the merger, continue to serve their customers; upgrade their networks; and, push towards 5G service, they will be nowhere near as effective without combining their assets. The combined company plans to invest almost $40 billion between 2019 and 2021 to construct its post-merger 5G — three times as much as T-Mobile could have invested alone. According to the companies: “By 2024, the New T-Mobile network will have approximately double the total capacity and triple the total 5G capacity of T-Mobile and Sprint combined, with 5G speeds four to six times what they could achieve on their own.”  

We encourage you to assess the broadband market holistically. Wireless 5G and even the current 4G LTE services, are competitive with wireline broadband services. We can expect the speed, capacity, and low consumer cost for 5G service to accelerate “cord-cutting,” as Americans increasingly opt for mobile broadband. 5G wireless services promise speeds over 100 Mbps. The combined company plans to provide this kind of service to 90 percent of the country by 2024, but with the two companies trying to deploy two separate networks, reaching that goal would cost an additional $43.6 billion3 — making this timeline impossible. Combining the two companies’ spectrum assets, tower locations and investment in network upgrades will allow the network to have the breadth and depth necessary to deploy 5G throughout the country – in rural and urban areas.  

Americans can look forward to more competitive pricing for mobile broadband. T-Mobile has a history creating pressure in the wireless market to lower prices and improve service offerings. The new T-Mobile can continue that trend as it competes for subscribers. Currently, T-Mobile and Sprint rank 3rd and 4th respectively for wireless subscribers. A post-merger T-Mobile will have 126 million subscribers, making it a closer competitor to Verizon’s 150 million subscribers and AT&T’s subscribership of 142 million. Furthermore, there are nearly 100 wireless providers nationwide, giving most Americans the choice between at least three or more service providers.  

Having more robust, cheaper and widely available 5G offerings will also pressure today’s wireline providers to improve service, and to invest more heavily in building their own wireless networks to offer customers the mobility they increasingly demand. This will make the wireless market even more dynamic than it would have been without the merger.  

Increased competition among wireless and wireline broadband providers will produce enormous consumer benefits. The industry competitive response is expected to result in as much as a 55 percent decrease in price per GB and a 120 percent increase in cellular data supply for all wireless customers. As a result, Americans will not only benefit from better service, but also by paying lower prices for that improved service. In addition, T-Mobile will launch innovative services to serve business, home, and the IoT markets.  

In general, when private businesses decide to join forces, government should not stand in the way — absent compelling evidence of actual demonstrable harms to consumers. The proposed combination will bring undeniable benefits to consumers, increase competition for broadband of all kinds, and help maintain America’s global leadership in mobile broadband. Thus, the merger should be approved without conditions and without delay.  

Regards,  

Americans for Tax Reform  

President  

Grover G. Norquist  

 

James L. Martin  

Founder  

60 Plus Association  

  

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis  

President  

60 Plus Association  

  

Steve Pociask  

President  

American Consumer Institute  

Center for Citizen Research  

  

Thomas Schatz  

President  

Citizens Against Government Waste  

  

Chuck Muth  

President  

Citizen Outreach  

  

Andrew F. Quinlan  

President  

Center for Freedom and Prosperity  

  

Jeffery Mazzella  

President  

Center for Individual Freedom  

  

Olivia Grady  

Senior Fellow  

Center for Worker Freedom  

  

Wayne Crews  

Vice President for Policy  

Competitive Enterprise Institute  

  

Katie McAuliffe  

Executive Director  

Digital Liberty  

  

Adam Brandon  

President  

FreedomWorks Foundation  

  

George Landrith  

President  

Frontiers of Freedom  

  

Pete Sepp  

President  

National Taxpayers Union  

  

Mary Adams  

Chair  

Maine Center Right Coalition  

  

William L. O'Brien  

Co-chair  

New Hampshire Center Right Coalition  

  

Jeff Kropf  

Executive Director  

Oregon Capitol Watch Foundation  

  

Mike Stenhouse  

Chief Executive Officer  

Rhode Island Center for  

Freedom & Prosperity  

  

Paul Gessing  

President  

Rio Grande Foundation  

  

David Williams  

President  

Taxpayer Protection Alliance  

  

Berin Szoka  

President  

TechFreedom  

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart


Coalition Supports Media Modernization

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, June 21st, 2018, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

Today, 23 center-right consumer advocates sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting its efforts to modernize regulations on broadcaster programming. The Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative will allow American broadcasters more flexibility in determining the schedule and content of children's programming.

As the coalition notes, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) "Kid Vid" rules are obsolete in our current media landscape. Most households in the United States have ready access to cable and internet services in the home and these broadcast regulations only limit the quality of children's programming.

This letter endorsing the initiative went to the FCC this morning June 21st, 2018:

June 21, 2018

The Honorable Ajit Pai
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW,
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Pai

On behalf of our organizations, we write to express our support of the Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative to update obsolete Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “Kid Vid” rules on children's television programming.

In 1990, the Children's Television Act (CTA) became law, and simply required broadcasters to show educational and informational programming for children. It had no mention of hourly quotas or restrictions on broadcasters and children's educational programming.  Since its passage, however, the FCC has broadly interpreted its ability to micromanage broadcaster content for children.

Broadcasters should have more flexibility in organizing their schedules for children's TV shows. The current regulations on broadcasters control the length of educational content. While some messages and programs for certain age groups are better suited for 15 minutes, others might be better suited for 30 or 45 minutes. These restrictions block modern versions of the still popular educational short animated skits from Schoolhouse Rock!, like “I’m Just a Bill,” and special programming, such as the “ABC Afterschool Specials.” Both would be unacceptable under Kid Vid. Broadcasters should have more discretion in the timing, length, and content of children’s programming.

The FCC Kid Vid rules require broadcasters to submit mountains of paperwork detailing their programming schedules, the objectives of the programming, and the target child audience. The program run-time is restricted and, once submitted, the schedules cannot vary.

The FCC’s Kid Vid rules do not contemplate the vast amount of children’s programming that is now available. There have been significant changes since the 90s, particularly in terms of access to new content delivery platforms. In previous decades, broadcasters were the primary access point, but now the vast majority of American households have more options.  According to Nielsen, there are only 2.5% of households without cable or internet access in the home.[1] Of those homes, only 20% have a child between the ages of two and 17.[2] That leaves only .5% of households with children that don’t have cable or internet in the home, but individuals in these homes may be accessing content like the PBS app on their wireless devices.

In terms of content, there are many cable tv stations dedicated to children's programming. Parents have access to streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go, to watch children's educational content on demand with their families on any device anywhere.

Easing these regulations does not mean the end of children's broadcast programming; rather, it enables broadcasters to enhance the quality of children’s programming to match their competitors.

The initial law did not require the restrictions that have since been imposed on broadcasters. We support easing broadcaster regulations to match the contemporary children’s programming environment.

[1] This does not include the possibility of wireless access.

[2] These numbers were based on average day for Nielsen’s National Panel between the dates 04/26/18 - 05/23/18

 

Regards,

 

Grover G. Norquist

President

Americans for Tax Reform

 

Phil Kerpen

President

American Commitment

 

Matt Schlapp

Chairman

American Conservative Union

 

Brent Wm. Gardner

Chief Government Affairs Officer

Americans for Prosperity

 

Steve Pociask

President

American Consumer Institute

Center for Citizen Research

 

Lisa B. Nelson

Chief Executive Officer

American Legislative Exchange Council

 

Ashley N. Varner

Executive Director

ALEC Action

 

Norm Singleton

President

Campaign for Liberty

 

Thomas Schatz

President

Citizens Against Government Waste

 

Andrew F. Quinlan

President

Center for Freedom and Prosperity

 

Jeffery Mazzella

President

Center for Individual Freedom

 

Matthew Kandrach

President

Consumer Action for a Strong America

 

Katie McAuliffe

Executive Director

Digital Liberty

 

Hance Haney

Senior Fellow

Discovery Institute

 

Adam Brandon

President

FreedomWorks Foundation

 

George Landrith

President

Frontiers of Freedom

 

Mario H. Lopez

President

Hispanic Leadership Fund

 

Carrie Lukas

President

Independent Women’s Forum

 

Andrew Langer

President

Institute for Liberty

 

Bartlett Cleland

Managing Principal

Madery Bridge

 

Pete Sepp

President

National Taxpayers’ Union

 

Scott Cleland

Chairman

NetCompetition

 

David Williams

President

Taxpayer Protection Alliance

 

 

Photo Credit: Nick Normal


Coalition Sounds off to Congress: Get in Tune on the Music Modernization Act

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018, 1:39 PM PERMALINK

Today Americans for Tax Reform, along with a number of center-right organizations, sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives in support of the Music Modernization Act, which will update copyright law benefiting America’s creative community.

The Music Modernization act ensures that music creators get paid for their work, and makes it easier for streaming services to find and compensate artists. The Act will also create protections for sound recordings that were made before 1972 that currently do not have federal copyright protection. This helps the creators of these works receive long overdue royalties.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced the Music Modernization Act in December. The Bill is pending in the House Committee on the Judiciary

This legislation is noteworthy as it ensures creators are properly compensated and encourages future artists to create music for us to all enjoy in the digital age. The Senate has also proposed similar legislation that has been referred to committee.

The letter can be found here, and the full text of the letter is below.

 

April 4, 2018

Dear Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

On behalf of our organizations we write to express our support for a package of bills that are encompassed in the Music Modernization Act, which will update copyright law to the benefit of America’s creative community.

The Music Modernization Act of 2017, H. R. 4706, creates a single licensing entity for all digital compositions. This rationalizes the digital music licensing process for both streaming entities and creators, so that distribution platforms can actually find the artists they want and need to compensate. It also raises the Copyright Royalty Board rate-setting standard to one that will better reflect rates that would likely result from an unencumbered market negotiation. Currently, songwriter compensation from digital services is outrageously low.

The MMA also includes the AMP Act, H.R. 881, which creates a process by which producers and engineers receive compensation for their contributions in the creative process of finalized sound recordings. By codifying their right to receive royalties, the bills finally recognize an integral part of music creation.

Under current copyright law, pre-1972 sound recordings are not given federal copyright protection. As part of the MMA, the CLASSICS Act, H.R. 3301, creates protections for pre-1972 recordings by making unlicensed digital transmissions of these recordings illegal, and provides these recordings with the same licensing rules as later recordings. This brings parity for royalties for pre- 1972 and later recordings.

The ability to create and disseminate musical works has never been easier than it is now through digital formats. Creators should be able to use new technologies to spread their work without worrying about which medium provides the best compensation.

These bills update the compensation process in order to provide even more incentive and appreciation for the creative process, and finally acknowledge, in law, the changes that artists and their fans have already implemented.

We request your favorable vote on this bill that brings copyright law closer to the digital realities of music creation and distribution.

 

Photo Credit: James Keuning


Americans for Tax Reform files Amicus Brief in South Dakota v. Wayfair

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, April 4th, 2018, 12:59 PM PERMALINK

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2018 – Today, Americans for Tax Reform submitted its brief to the Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair.

In the brief, ATR argues against the South Dakota law that would drastically expand state taxing authority, saying that “if this Court overturns Quill, retailers with no presence in a taxing state will face complex and costly collection obligations, the threat of expensive and intrusive audits from thousands of taxing jurisdictions, and potential retroactive tax assessments,” placing heavy burdens on interstate commerce.

ATR also maintains that the Supreme Court must rule against South Dakota unless they want to set a dangerous precedent that would encourage other states to pass unconstitutional laws that would force reconsideration of other constitutional issues thereby bypassing the legislative authority of Congress.

On April 3, Grover Norquist, President of ATR, said in an interview on CNBC: "There has been a debate as whether one state can force businesses in another state to collect sales taxes over catalog or internet sales. Without a physical presence, the business can’t be taxed by a foreign state without physical presence. You don’t want states to reach into each other’s borders and tax without recourse at the ballot box.”

Ironically, this case is being argued on Tax Day, which falls on April 17 this year.

Below are some quotes from ATR's Amicus Curiae brief:

South Dakota’s economic nexus thresholds are not sufficient to prevent the imposition of undue burdens on multistate and international sellers of property and services.

South Dakota’s portrayal of comprehensive, multistate use tax collection for remote retailers is far too simplistic and vastly understates the actual burdens that compliance will place on retailers. [pg. 6]

If this Court overturns Quill, retailers with no presence in a taxing State will face complex and costly collection obligations, the threat of expensive and intrusive audits from thousands of taxing jurisdictions, and potential retroactive tax assessments. [pg. 6]

Detailed classification problems are rampant in the American sales and use tax system, and retailers must solve these problems to stay in full compliance. [pg. 8]

The “at no charge” software solutions touted by South Dakota are estimated to cost between $80,000–$290,000 in initial setup and integration, and approximately $57,500–$260,000 per year to maintain. [pg. 10]

A Ruling for South Dakota would subject taxpayers to substantial retroactive state tax liability.

In addition to the prospective burdens that taxpayers would face if the Court were to reverse Quill, online retailers would face an additional burden: a real risk of retroactive tax assessments. [pg. 14]

States have demonstrated a voracious appetite for retroactive tax laws. For example, after an unfavorable court decision against its Department of Revenue, the Washington State Legislature enacted legislation with 23 years of retroactive application. [pg. 15]

The impact of the Court’s holding in Quill was retroactive, and any adjustment to Quill’s physical presence rule will apply retroactively as well. [pg. 16]

Congress, rather than the South Dakota legislature, is the appropriate and best party to legislate the proper nexus standards for balancing the interests of States, businesses, individuals, and taxpayers.

South Dakota asks this Court to play the role of a legislature—by eliminating the physical- presence standard on which businesses have relied for half a century and replacing it with a specific new economic threshold suggested and approved by the legislature of a single state. [pg. 17-18]

In 1992, this Court stated that Congress was the right party to determine a new standard for sales and use tax collection nexus, if any. Now in 2018, South Dakota asks this Court to decide that the South Dakota legislature is the right party to establish that new standard. [pg. 18]

The Court should affirm its own “wisdom and valor” from 1992 when it held that Congress is the branch of government best suited to resolve this issue. [pg. 22]

Rewarding South Dakota for passing an unconstitutional law to challenge a Supreme Court precedent could have dangerous consequences for our constitutional order.

A reversal of Quill would require the Court not only to undermine its own statements regarding the force of stare decisis but also to legislate from the bench and decide whether the new South Dakota economic nexus thresholds are sufficient to prevent the imposition of undue burdens on businesses. [pg. 22-23]

To rule for South Dakota… would create a dangerous precedent with the potential to yield awful complications outside of the staid world of state tax, with consequences that could affect life and liberty instead of merely dollars and cents. [pg. 23]

To reward South Dakota by reversing Quill … would encourage and embolden other states to pass unconstitutional laws to force reconsideration of numerous other issues, potentially causing cracks in the rule of law and leading to constant efforts at the state level to upset long-settled constitutional issues. [pg. 24]

Photo Credit: Joe Ravi


Commissioner Carr Brings Us One Step Closer to Being 5G Ready

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018, 10:45 AM PERMALINK

America is and can remain the leader in Fifth Generation wireless technology (5G) development and deployment as long as regulators practice regulatory humility – taking a right sized role and stepping out of the way when appropriate. FCC Commissioner Carr’s announcement of the new plan to advance 5G deployment does just that; it makes the government role right-sized when it comes to small cell deployment. Literally.

The regulatory structures surrounding large cell tower deployments should not apply to small cells, which are often no larger than a pizza box. Exempting small cell deployment from federal and environmental historic review processes advances the 5G timeline, and, since small cells are most often deployed in already developed areas, it reduces the likelihood that historic and environmental review processes will be invoked redundantly.

5G will bring millions of new jobs, approximately $275 billion in private sector investment, and a $500 billion boom to GDP. It’s efficient deployment is necessary for autonomous cars, internet of things, remote surgery, telehealth, smart cities, faster home and mobile broadband, and so much more. The possibilities are endless, but there are hurdles to clear before we can realize the potential of our 5G future.

The FCC has created an exception to the burdensome requirements for small cells to speed up the rollout of 5G. Currently, the review process required for large towers is also required for small cells. A small cell is a new type of broadband infrastructure no larger than 3 cubic feet that helps densify wireless service networks in an area to enhance capacity. Despite the small footprint, service providers are forced to undergo the same regulatory review process as massive towers to install these small cells.

Wireless providers have run into roadblocks from various federal review processes, including reviews from tribes. The Tribal review process, which gives members of tribes the opportunity to challenge or assess fees as a prerequisite to placing equipment, in some states extends across the entire state, not just on tribal territory. While the review is an important mechanism to protect Tribal land, it should not be applied on already existing infrastructure or expanded to territory outside of tribal lands.

This process not only adds significant time to placing cells, it also adds significant cost. One wireless carrier estimates 17% of their costs for placing small cells goes towards these regulatory costs and expects to spend $29 million in 2018 just on these fees alone. A few noted examples of these high fees include: a fee of $13,525 for a review of collocation on a hotel in Minnesota, and $8,000 for placement on a civic center in Denver.  This is money that could facilitate investment and deployment for multiple projects that will provide better coverage, and services.

Exempting small cells from the environmental, historical, or tribal process (especially for deployment on already developed land such as parking lots, bus stops, streetlights, etc.) will not trample on the rights of those on tribal lands, but will expand opportunities through connectivity.

Commissioner Brendan Carr today announced a plan to exclude small wireless facilities from the environmental and historic review procedure designed for large macrocell deployments. Making a determination that they are neither federal undertakings nor major federal actions does this. This will reduce the regulatory costs of deployment by 80%. This will shave months off deployment timelines and expand 5G deployment. He addressed the Tribal review concerns by proposing a plan to streamline the historic review procedures and update the Section 106 Tribal Consultation process. By addressing upfront fees, the consultation process and creating a clear timeline for a Tribe to respond. These changes will only apply to deployments outside of reservation boundaries and Tribal lands.

As Commissioner Carr emphasized the importance of maintaining US leadership in wireless as we upgrade to 5G. To ensure that the US is 5G ready he announced the plan to streamline the federal historic and environmental review procedures that apply to wireless infrastructure deployments.

The government should get out the way, so the United States will remain pioneers in this new technology. It is critical that we are the first in the race to be 5G ready, and ensure that every American across the country has access to cheap, competitive, and lightening fast broadband services.

Photo Credit: Eggib

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