Internet phone users in America may soon be subject to a new tax. A 27-page public notice issued by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) last week has clearly pointed out the need to make more telecom companies pay taxes into the Universal Service Fund (USF). If this happens, the burden will definitely be passed on to consumers.
The proposal has been prepared by Robert Nelson, a former Michigan Public Service commissioner and in it he has taken a clear stand by saying, “The dramatic decrease in traditional long-distance wireline traffic and the increase in the use of VoIP and the deployment of IP networks has changed the dynamics of USF so irrevocably that immediate attention to the issue is required.”
Net telephone companies currently don’t pay taxes, if they are forced to meet with new obligations for USF, in all likelihood they will raise prices for the end users. Not only that, companies who are already making some indirect contribution to the fund may also have to raise their rates because the proposal clearly earmarks that their pay out to USF is on a lower scale.
However, the proposal tends to provide some respite to net phone users in the way of exempting internet-based chat programs and utilities that do not link up with the public telephone networks like voice-enabled instant-messaging programs.