Medical device tax and the iPhone: Grover Norquist's anti-tax group jumps on new argument for repeal

March 8, 2013 by Brian Johnson

First the IRS was coming for your medical device, now your iPhone too? An old tax foe jumps into the fray in the medical device tax repeal fight. coverage of the medical device tax

Conservative tax-reform activist Grover Norquist is putting some of his organization's muscle behind a mostly GOP-fueled effort to paint the medical device excise tax as a danger to smartphones and tablets.

In an op-ed for The Hill, Katie McAuliffe wrote that there is legitimate concern that smartphones, tablets and other hand-held devices could be unnecessarily taxed under the new 2.3% medical device excise tax because the FDA has not clearly stated whether or not mobile devices that run health apps could be interpreted as medical devices themselves.

"This is a legitimate question for clarifying tax authority, and a clear consequence of passing a monolithic bill without a thorough reading," McAuliffe wrote.

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McAuliffe is the executive director for Digital Liberty, a sister organization of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, which also shares the same address and telephone number as the conservative advocacy center,

Late last week, 6 GOP lawmakers from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce wrote a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg to clarify the agency's position on mobile apps and whether or not the technology would be considered medical devices subject to the new 2.3% excise tax. The agency has said in previous guidance on mobile health apps that mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets would be considered medical devices based on whether or not the device was being marketed for medical use.