Grass-roots push targets ’Talking tax’

WASHINGTON, DC: Trying to convince Congress to pull the plug on the federal excise tax for telephone service, the telecom industry is mounting a concerted grass-roots push including everything from corporate and multi-cultural coalitions to mock phone cards.

WASHINGTON, DC: Trying to convince Congress to pull the plug on the federal excise tax for telephone service, the telecom industry is mounting a concerted grass-roots push including everything from corporate and multi-cultural coalitions to mock phone cards.

WASHINGTON, DC: Trying to convince Congress to pull the plug on the

federal excise tax for telephone service, the telecom industry is

mounting a concerted grass-roots push including everything from

corporate and multi-cultural coalitions to mock phone cards.



The PR effort, led by Quinn Gillespie & Associates, is designed to

portray the tax as obsolete - it was originally implemented during the

Spanish-American War. The so-called ’tax on talking,’ its opponents

claim, has become a tax on Internet access, and its repeal would save

consumers dollars 5 billion annually. It adds 3% to the average phone

bill.



One coalition supporting the repeal consists of a who’s-who in telecom

(AT&T and MCI WorldCom, among others). Supporting them is a rainbow

coalition that includes the National Council of La Raza and the National

Black Chamber of Commerce. The most visible PR prop is a phone calling

card with ’dollars 15 million’ written on it, representing how much the

tax costs consumers daily.



Legislation sponsored by representatives Rob Portman and Bob Matsui is

expected to be voted on by the House within the next few weeks. Bill

Roth and John Breaux are sponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.



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