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Johanne Torres[March 18, 2005]

Republican Rep’s Bill Could Kill VoIP Tax in Florida

BY JOHANNE TORRES


In VoIP regulation news, Florida House of Representatives’ John Stargel’s efforts to kill state-level taxes for VoIP services seem to have started to pay off last week when a unanimous decision was reached by legislators who voted in favor of abolishing part of a communications tax for businesses that run their own VoIP networks.


House bill number 49 would now be pending consideration and state Senate approval obtainable by no later than next month. The Florida TaxWatch, a group that monitors tax issues in the state, believes that the twenty year-old Florida Substitute Communications Tax (created to tax businesses that bypassed the local telephone network by establishing their own communications networks) is out of date and unnecessary.

The tax law was targeted at providers of satellite and microwave technologies; however, some lawmakers believe the rules are also applicable to VoIP providers, such as Vonage or CallVantage, who carry voice traffic routed over the public Internet.

Stargel’s efforts would prevent a possible halt to tech industry economic progress in the state. On the other hand, the infamous tax brought in more than a quarter of a million dollars for 2004. Experts believe that the new, frigid guidelines would increase the gains to a whopping 500 million dollars.

In 2004, a legislative effort to halt tax collection for the following two years that reached the House of Representatives was tossed by former House Speaker Johnnie Byrd.


Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at jtorres@tmcnet.com.

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