Two telecom industry groups reacted positively to this week’s reintroduction of the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act in the House of Representatives and Senate.
If passed and signed into law, the legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Service code to not consider funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the American Rescue Plan and the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Fund as income. Those funds therefore would not be taxed and more money would be available to the respective initiatives.
The original senate version of the bill was introduced in the Senate last September. The reintroduction this week in the Senate was made by senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and in the House by U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA-16) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19).
Two carrier organizations released prepared statements that expressed support for the programs and the move to in effect increase members’ budgets:
“The federal government is making an enormous investment in rural broadband, but the effects of the tax code make it harder for the small, locally-based broadband providers we represent to maximize the amount of funding going to build out the network,” Derrick B. Owens, Senior Vice President for Government and Industry Affairs for WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband said in his statement.
The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act, he said “would streamline the tax code so that every broadband grant dollar goes toward building broadband networks and service to those who don’t have it. WTA strongly urges Congressional leadership to address this issue quickly.”
Shirley Bloomfield, the CEO of NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association agreed. “We are grateful that Congress committed tens of billions of dollars to broadband deployment grants through recent bills seeking to help close the digital divide in our country.
“But taxing broadband grants – requiring recipients to pay back to the government a portion of what they receive from the government – will dramatically reduce the impact of these programs and likely leave the hardest-to-reach communities without essential connectivity for even longer. It is critical that all broadband grant funds go toward their intended purpose of network deployment. NTCA is proud to support the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act[.]”