Commentary

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.

Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.

Titch's work primarily focused on telecommunications, the Internet and new media. He is a former managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News (IT&T News) published by the Heartland Institute. His columns have appeared in Investor's Business Daily, Total Telecom, and America's Network, among others.

Prior to joining Reason in 2004, Titch covered the telecommunications industry as a journalist for more than two decades. Titch was director of editorial projects for Data Communications magazine where he directed content development for supplemental publications and special projects. He has also held the positions of editorial director of Telephony, editor of Global Telephony magazine, Midwest bureau chief of CommunicationsWeek, and associate editor-communications at Electronic News.

Outside of the telecom industry, Titch conducted rich media and content development for publishers and corporate marketing groups. He has also developed and launched his own web-based media, including SecuritySquared.com, an on-line resource for the security industry.

Titch graduated cum laude from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and English.