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President Clinton

By Steve LeSueur

The chairman of a national commission that will recommend to President Clinton whether state and local governments should tax the Internet wants U.S. citizens to weigh in on the issue at the commission's Web site.

"We are certainly interested to know the public's view on sales taxation of commerce on the Internet, whether it should happen, how it should be effected and what the proper policy is," Virginia Gov. James Gilmore (R), chairman of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, said in an interview at the National Governors' Association meeting in St. Louis.

The Web address is www.ecommercecommission.org, said Gilmore, who leads the panel of 19 public and private sector officials created in October 1998 as part of the Internet Tax Freedom Act. Plans call for the panel to deliver its findings in April 2000.

The commission, which met for the first time in June in Williamsburg, Va., will hold three more meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 14-15 in New York. The scope of its report will be circumscribed to some extent by the short duration of the panel, said Gilmore.

Many state and local government officials are worried that rapidly increasing Internet sales will cut into governments' traditional tax revenues, while Internet proponents fear taxes will stifle the new medium.

Congress placed a three-year moratorium on collecting new sales taxes over the Internet while the commission grapples with the issue.

"I cannot tell you at this point that there will be a consensus, and I can't tell you what the outcome will be. It may be that we offer an array of choices. It may be that Congress takes an entirely different position. It's just too soon to know," Gilmore told Washington Technology.

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