Senator Reverend Warnock Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Broadband Expansion, Prevent Taxation of Broadband Grants

Today, Senator Reverend Warnock (D-GA) announced bipartisan legislation he helped introduce that will encourage broadband, especially in rural areas, by preventing certain grants from being considered taxable income

The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act would help increase the pot of money available for rural broadband expansion in Georgia

Senator Reverend Warnock: “I’m pleased to be a champion for broadband access and to be a part of this bipartisan coalition working to ensure rural regions in Georgia and across the nation have access to the resources they need to expand broadband”

Washington D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), joined a bipartisan cohort of his colleagues in announcing the reintroduction of legislation to increase the federal funding available for broadband expansion by preventing certain grants from being considered taxable income. The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to ensure that funding directed for the implementation of rural broadband from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will not be considered taxable income and will make more of the funds available for much-needed broadband expansion in rural Georgia.

“The pandemic forced many of us to live even more of our lives online. Hardworking Georgia families need reliable internet access for their jobs, education, health care and so much more,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I’ve long championed efforts to strengthen broadband access, and I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan coalition working to ensure rural regions in Georgia and across the nation have access to the resources they need to expand broadband. The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act will help connect Georgians so they can thrive in our bustling economy.”

Grants awarded to industry for the purposes of broadband expansion, also referred to as deployment, are currently factored into a company’s income and will soon be subjected to additional taxes due to scheduled changes to the corporate tax code that kick in beginning next year – unless Congress acts now to address the problem. This new bipartisan legislation moves to exclude broadband deployment grants awarded through the IIJA and ARP from an organization’s income, ensuring the entirety of federal dollars awarded to companies for the purpose of expanding broadband around the country can be used wholly for that purpose, rather than making their way back to the government through taxes.

Senator Warnock is a champion for bringing robust federal investments in broadband access to Georgians across the state. Last December, Senator Warnock led the entire Georgia delegation to call on the FCC and NTIA to develop more accurate federal broadband maps and better reflect Georgia’s needs. At the beginning of December, Senator Warnock announced  $250 million in American Rescue Plan funding will be invested in expanding and improving Georgians’ broadband access. He has secured more than $570 million in federal funding to bolster Georgia’s broadband infrastructure. Last year, Senator Warnock hosted Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in Jackson County where he took her to meet directly with parents, students, and local officials about their broadband needs and the challenges they face. He also received a commitment from Rosenworcel to connect every Georgian to affordable and reliable broadband. In addition, Senator Warnock is working to bring more affordable broadband to more Georgians through the Affordable Connectivity Program, which was created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

When introduced in the 117th Congress, the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act earned the support of Georgians working across the state to bring broadband infrastructure to their communities:

NORTH GEORGIA: “As a partner in several ARPA grants in North Georgia, we are very excited about the possibility of eliminating taxes associated with these funds.  Every dollar in tax that is eliminated will allow us to provide another dollar’s worth of fiber optic infrastructure to our communities,” said Jason Smith, COO, Ellijay Telephone/ETC Communications.

SAVANNAH: “We are grateful to see the pending legislature to exempt broadband grant funding from federal income tax.  It is imperative that we ensure that every dollar allocated from Congress to deploy broadband networks in hard-to-reach areas goes to fund those networks rather than being returned to the federal government in the form of income taxes.  We are grateful for Senator Warnock’s leadership on this issue and look forward to its passage very soon,” said Dustin Durden, CEO, Pineland Communications, Inc. 

SAVANNAH: “Planters Broadband Cooperative would like to thank Senator Warnock for his co-sponsorship of legislation allowing for the efficient and effective use of grants to build and deploy broadband service. His leadership and vision will allow broadband infrastructure to reach more unserved rural households across Georgia and our country. Senator Warnock understands this action has huge implications on education, health care, commerce, and economic development in rural communities. This important action will help close the digital divide and improve the lives for so many in our country.  We appreciate his leadership in this issue,” said Stephen Milner, CEO at Planters Telephone Cooperative.

STATE-WIDE: “We appreciate Senator Warnock recognizing the importance that this action will have on the delivery of broadband to the rural areas of Georgia and across the country.  This allows the grant dollars to be effectively used to build and delivery broadband in the rural areas where it is needed.  Broadband benefits our country is so many ways, this bill will enable the growth and improved quality of life for so many communities and individuals,” said Glen Wood, Fiber Network Owners Alliance, Executive Facilitator. 

In the Senate, the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act is led by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

Full text of legislation is available here