- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

From a news release by The Seniors Coalition, we learn that grandma and grandpa aren’t hep to the idea of a new telephone tax shift:

Half of all older Americans - including 62 percent of the poorest seniors with annual income of $25,000 a year or less - would have to cut back on long-distance phone calls if their “phone bill was raised by $1 to $2 every month in higher federal phone fees,” according to an Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) survey conducted for The Seniors Coalition (TSC). Such a $1-$2 per line phone charge is contemplated under a controversial plan put forward by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin to significantly shift the burden of paying for the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) phone bill tax to low-income seniors and other vulnerable consumers.

The national poll of 860 seniors found that two out of three older Americans think it would be “unfair” to switch the federal USF tax from the current “pay-for-what-you-use basis” on long-distance calls that are actually made to “a flat charge for every phone line you have …” Half of seniors said that it would be “very unfair” to change the USF in this manner. Fewer than one in four seniors (23 percent) think that the line-based approach to USF is “fair.”

Polls aside, count me — a not-yet-senior — as very cool to the notion of higher or shifted Universal Service Fund fees. The need is for less taxation of telephony, not more, so that commerce can flourish, communication can increase, and the economy can grow. The USF, Al Gore’s famous “e-Rate,” that phone tax levied during the Spanish-American War (no, I’m not kidding!) — in my view, all these should have a sunset, preferably irrespective of Daylight Savings Time!

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