Cook County, Ill., Commissioners Propose $4-Per-Line Phone Tax

Just when you thought telecom services were getting a break from taxation (The House approved the Senate’s version of the moratorium taxing Internet services Tuesday, extending it seven years instead of four), along comes the Cook County, Ill., Commission with a proposal to stick a $4 tax on every phone line in the county, which takes in Chicago and its inner ring of suburbs. It isn’t often that AT&T and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), Illinois’ consumer watchdog group, agree. But both think the tax is egregious. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce and social activist groups such as the Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide have also denounced the tax, which stands to add $20 a month in phone taxes to the average household, when landlines, cell phones, faxes and dial-up Internet are factored in. Plus the tax is indexed to inflation, so its only going to get higher each year. Jon Van of the Chicago Tribune covers the story here. My favorite quote comes from Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and former head of Ameritech Illinois, who attests to the growth of government and how it tries to hide the consequences of spending in taxes likes these. “The philosophy is to hide the true cost of government by making the consumer think he’s got a high phone bill,” he said.