Frequently Asked Questions
How was the Commission created?
In 1998, Congress passed (and the president later signed) the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) that imposes a three-year moratorium on new Internet taxation. As part of the Act, Congress established the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce to address the issues related to Internet taxation. The Congressionally designated members of the Commission include:
- Three representatives from the Federal Government: the Secretary
of Commerce, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the United States Trade
Representative (or their respective delegates);
- Eight representatives from State and local governments (one such representative
shall be from a State or local government that does not impose a sales
tax and one representative shall be from a State that does not impose
an income tax); and
- Eight representatives of the electronic commerce industry (including
small business), telecommunications carriers, local retail businesses,
and consumer groups.
What was the authority of the Commission?
The Advisory Commission conducted a thorough study of Federal, State
and local, and international taxation and tariff treatment of transactions
using the Internet and Internet access, and other comparable intrastate,
interstate, or international sales activities. The Commission was tasked
with producing what is arguably the most important policy initiative of
the information age. The Commission's recommendations on the critical
issues of e-Commerce and tax policy were submitted to Congress on April 12, 2000.
What was the term of the Commission?
The Commission completed its work with its Report to Congress, which was delivered on April 12, 2000, ahead of schedule.
Who provided funding for the Commission?
This Commission is unique in that Congress did not appropriate any funding, but gave the Commission "gift authority." As a result, the Commission approved a funding strategy at its first meeting. The strategy called for initial funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the six corporate members of the Commission along with a request to Congress for additional funding for Commission activities. On November 29, 1999, President Clinton signed an appropriations bill that included $1.4 million in Fiscal Year 2000 operating funds for the Commission. The initial funding provided by The Commonwealth of Virginia and the six corporate members of the Commission will be fully reimbursed as the Commission closes its books.
Why should there be an Internet tax moratorium?
The ITFA placed a three-year moratorium on various taxes on Internet access and e-Commerce so the Commission would have time to review the issues and make its recommendations. It is important to provide for a framework for discussion of these critical issues. All sides of the argument were represented in the debate, and the ramifications of all positions were considered as the Commission prepared its Report to Congress.
What was the Commission's meeting schedule?
The Commission met in person: June 21-22, 1999, Williamsburg, Virginia; September 14-15, 1999, New York City; December 14-15, 1999, San Francisco; and March 20-21, 2000, Dallas. The Commission also met twice by conference call.
In addition to tax issues, what other issues did the Commission
Central to the examination of these issues is the fact that the Internet
knows no geographical boundaries and by its very nature violates those
geographical boundaries that hinder other forms of commerce. The Commission
also commented on the implications of personal privacy on the
taxation of Internet purchases.
Who are the members of the Commission and
what is their affiliation?
- Mr. Dean Andal,
Chairman, California Board of Equalization
- Mr. Michael Armstrong,
Chairman of the Board, AT&T
- The Honorable James Gilmore,
Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia
- Mr. Joseph Guttentag,
Senior Advisor, Office of Tax Policy, U.S. Treasury Department
Lawrence H. Summers,
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury)
- The Honorable Paul Harris,
Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates
- The Honorable Delna Jones,
County Commissioner, Washington County, Oregon
- The Honorable Ron Kirk,
Mayor, City of Dallas
- The Honorable Michael Leavitt,
Governor, State of Utah
- Mr. Gene Lebrun,
President (1997-1999), National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
- The Honorable Gary Locke,
Governor, State of Washington
- Mr. Robert Novick,
General Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky,
U.S. Trade Representative)
- Mr. Grover Norquist,
President, Americans for Tax Reform
- Mr. Richard Parsons,
President, Time Warner, Inc.
- Mr. Andrew Pincus,
General Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce
Mr. William M. Daley,
Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce)
- Mr. Robert Pittman,
President & Chief Operating Officer, America Online
- Mr. David Pottruck,
President & co-CEO, Charles Schwab and Company
- Mr. John Sidgmore,
Vice Chairman and COO, MCI Worldcom
- Mr. Stan Sokul ,
Association for Interactive Media
- Mr. Theodore Waitt,
Chairman, Gateway, Inc.
How do I communicate with the Commission?
Since the Commission has completed its work, no more submissions can be accepted. The Commission recieved more than 60,000 e-mailed inputs and more than 7,000 letters and other documents. Questions about Commission activities may be addressed to the Office of the Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, the Honorable James S. Gilmore, III, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia 23219.