Bill would cut tax on employee computers

The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee last week introduced

bipartisan legislation designed to increase computer use in the home and

encourage businesses to provide computers to their employees.

Called the Digital Divide Access to Technology Act (DATA), the legislation

comes at a time when President Clinton is campaigning to narrow the digital

divide — the gap between those who can afford technologies such as computers

and those who cannot.

"The DATA Act is a good first step in helping to address the digital divide,"

said Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia — one of two representatives

who introduced the act — in a congressional statement. "The DATA Act will

not ensure universal access...in all of our communities, but the DATA Act

helps to bring us a step closer to that goal."

The legislation lessens taxes on an employee's purchase of computer equipment

in hopes that more businesses will develop programs to offer workers' families

increased access to computers at home. A wide variety of such programs have

emerged at several industry leaders, such as Ford Motor Co., American Airlines,

Delta Air Lines and Intel Corp.

"The goal of the DATA Act is to create digital opportunity for millions

of American families by breaking down the barriers of the tax code so businesses

can provide access to these tools for their employees," said Rep. Jerry

Weller (R-Ill.) in the statement.

The act treats Internet access and the first $1,260 of the value of a computer

and its peripheral equipment and software as a working benefit not subject

to income tax.

"By enlisting employers in the battle to eliminate the digital divide, we

will help to better prepare our kids to compete in the new economy," Weller

added.

- Story copyright IDG News Service. All rights reserved.

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