Americans speak out against a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that could increase the telephone bills of millions of people. The proposal from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin deals with a tax called the Universal Service Fund (USF).
The USF tax was established to ensure that rural and low-income consumers have access to affordable phone services. Currently, USF money is collected through a “pay-as-you-go” system; a charge based on the amount of long distance interstate a person uses. The less a person uses long distance, the less they pay.
However, the FCC offers a fixed monthly fee. The proposed monthly flat rate would apply to all phone numbers and other connections, regardless of the number of interstate long distance calls made. This could raise taxes on 43 million American households by more than $ 700 million.
Callers in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia are the biggest losers. Taxpayers in 10 of these 12 states, all except Texas and Minnesota, already pay more federal USF taxes than their states pay for schools, hospitals and rural connectivity. Under the plan proposed by the FCC, that disparity would become even greater. The more conservative estimate of the proposed plan, in which the USF rate would go from the current facility to a flat rate of $ 1, per phone line, per month, indicates that 11 of the 12 states would end up paying more in the USF than They pay. I currently do.
According to Keep USF Fair Coalition, a consumer advocacy group, this USF proposal has serious implications for the future of phone service across the country. The proposed USF change also affects anyone who has friends or relatives in any of these 12 states, or who does business with a person or company located there.
With low-income and elderly consumers already affected by high gas prices, higher energy costs at home, and continued inflation in prescription drugs, the wide range of different Keep USF Fair Coalition groups oppose the plan. of proposed “number”. by the FCC. These groups caution against balancing USF finances on the shoulders of the very consumers they were supposed to help.