Critics are calling it the iTax.
The federal government will soon tax Internet usage in an effort to pay down the country’s swelling deficit.
“The bills are piling up and we need to find new streams of revenue to keep up,” said government spokesman Earl White.
“This isn’t really a tax. It’s more of a user fee. Those who don’t want to pay, can just live offline. The majority of Canadians do just fine without the Internet.”
While White wouldn’t say precisely when the tax will bite users, insiders say it will happen in days.
White said the plan will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to monitor customers’ web surfing and turn a usage report over to the feds at the end of the year for taxation. The plan is to tax each site visit based on the page’s content.
News and so-called sin sites — those offering pornography, gambling and social networking — will be the most heavily taxed, he said, though the rate of taxation has not yet been set.
However, White pointed out all government websites will remain free of the tax — though there will likely be a small fee if you use Google to get to them.
“If people don’t want to pay the levy to get news on what’s happening in government, they can get their news directly from the government free of charge,” said White. “Kind of makes sense to go directly to the source.”
Don Loader, president of the Free Online from Our Parliament Association (FOOPA) — a Facebook group formed to fight the iTax — called the move “information highway robbery.”
Bill Torrent with the People’s Army of the Forced Awakening, said his group, too, is outraged by the move.
“This is sick,” said Torrent. “What’s next? A tax on TV? Books? Gasoline? The simple fact is this government is afraid of an educated population.”
Oliver DeNet, a spokesman for the newly formed Taxes in Technology committee, said people shouldn’t prejudge the plan.
“This is no different than paying that extra little fee when you go to an ATM machine. And no one complains about that, do they?” he said.
While opposition members are upset by the tax, insiders say they are afraid to come out against it.
“We don’t want to be painted as supporting news, Facebook or pornography. And that’s what will happen,” said the insider.
Loader and his FOOPA freedom fighters have begun a petition, but not online, to avoid the tax.
He said those who want to join the battle against the tax can call 632-2784.