Spending Smart: Information You Can Bank On

By Gregory Karp
Chicago Tribune.

In the bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to keep up with all the trends and issues that affect your wallet as a consumer.

For example, did you know there’s potential for a new tax on your Internet service and that the formula for calculating credit scores is changing?

Here are four consumer news items you should know about.

Taxing the Internet for the first time. If Congress doesn’t act by Nov. 1, Internet service could be taxed by states and local governments, meaning you could have an even higher cable and phone bill than you do now.

A 1998 federal law, called the Internet Tax Freedom Act, has forbidden such a tax in most states. But renewing the act, while not controversial, has become entangled in the Senate with a different issue: the collection of sales tax on goods sold via the Internet, such as a tax on a book sold by Amazon.com.

If the deadline expires with no resolution or extension, state and local governments in all states could collect sales and communication taxes on Internet service, not only access for your home Wi-Fi network, but your smartphone service too.

Taxes for an individual could amount to an extra $15 to $20 a month, or about $200 a year, some observers say.

Internet service providers want the service to remain tax-free. For example, when the bill to keep Internet service tax-free passed the House in July, Comcast, in a statement, “urged” the Senate to act before the deadline.

Annabelle Canning, executive director of the Internet Tax Freedom Act Coalition, said much is at stake.

“It’s clearly billions of dollars that could be imposed on consumers,” she said. “And it’s not only an issue for consumers, but for businesses of all sizes.”

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