The FDA this week rejected the notion that the 2.3% medical device tax contained in the Affordable Care Act would apply to iPhones, tablets or other smartphone technology.
Rumors of the "iPhone tax" reached the House Energy & Commerce Investigations subcommittee, where Republican members asked the FDA for an explanation.
"They would not be regulated as medical devices, therefore not subject to the medical device tax," FDA Center for Devices & Radiological Health director Christy Foreman told the panel.
Committee Democrats criticized their Republican counterparts for raising the inquiry at all, equating it to a waste of the group’s time, The Hill reported.
"There are too many pressing issues before us for the committee and this Congress to get bogged down for 3 days in what amounts to an inaccurate talking point about FDA over-regulation and a nonexistent iPhone tax," to committee Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.) said during the meeting.
Rumors of a misplaced iPhone tax began growing this month after conservative tax-reform activist Grover Norquist put 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.
The notion appeared to stem partly from an op-ed published in The Hill in which Katie McAuliffe, the executive director for Digital Liberty, a sister organization of Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, wrote that smartphones, tablets and other hand-held devices could be unnecessarily taxed because the FDA has not clearly stated whether or not mobile devices that run health apps could be interpreted as medical devices themselves.
The FDA clarified this week that only a narrow range of apps may be subject to regulation and potential, but only those that could pose a hazard to users.