And yet, the VoIP tax saga continues� Let�s recap!
So, Internet phones came about and took IM to the next level, there was
a microphone and speakers that made us magically, have real
conversations! Then, our computers were calling regular phones and we
started, kind of, talking for free. Then came VoIP providers, created
calling plans, cool VoIP phones, life was neat, everyone was happy. Oh
yeah, well, while all of this was happening, there was Uncle Sam,
watching our every move, there, quietly. He then sent his little
allies, Senator-R and Senator-D, to inform everyone in the cyber galaxy
that it was about time to shell out some moola, and pay up some taxes.
Did I skip anything?
While we netizens try to merge (or even
replace) traditional communication services with great new technology,
the government seems to seek every possible way of �regulating,� or as
we more properly call it, �cashing-in� these increasingly popular
communication platforms. Throughout history, taxes have been supporting
the development of �new� technologies. If you still have a land line
telephone connection, you are probably paying tax to support the rural
areas where this service is not yet available. This starts off the
never-ending chain reaction caused when traditional communication
services start surfing the new technological wave. Is seems that the
same type of tax will eventually be applied to calls made using Voice over IP (VoIP) (define
alert) technology, in order to support legacy telephone wiring,
partially used when placing these phone calls. But, will the ball stop
We have to remember that VoIP takes place
in a peer-to-peer-like environment, just as other communication
platforms are. These platforms, that we use for free, like instant
messaging, chat, and inevitably email. Is the government planning to
grab and classify those as taxable services as well?
Taxing of VoIP services has been a very hot
topic during these last few weeks. Initiatives of regulating these
services have been on a few state government officials� top-tackling
issue list during this election jumble. There have been notable
baby-step attempts towards VoIP taxed regulation.
The frenzy began when companies were
relieved to know that a bill was set off by a New Hampshire senator that
would keep state legislature from imposing local taxes to VoIP
providers. It was not too long after this decision raised eyebrows in
the Senate; everyone found reasons galore to blot the bill. Come the
re-writing and amends, North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan defined two
ways that tax could be collected on a state level. Charges would support
the notorious Universal Fund (which takes care of expanding affordable
legacy phone services to rural America and even providing schoolchildren
in these areas with Internet services) and would also contribute to the
usage of the legacy wires. Added to that, the multifunctional fees would
also serve the
Enhanced 911, or �E911,�
alert) efforts, and whatever the police and
investigative forces spend on the wiretapping of phone calls fiasco.
Makes us consumers wonder what astronomical fee will end up hitting our
cyber pockets�and VoIP service providers, for that matter, wonder how
much time do they have to pack their bags and work from a remote corner
in the world.
Johanne Torres is the Assistant Editor for TMCnet.com and Internet
Telephony magazine. Previously, she was the Assistant Editor for EContent
magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.