Phone bill: More tax than talk – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Phone bill: More tax than talk

Written December 14th, 2013 by Hasso Hering
The CenturyLink building at First and Montgomery in Albany.

The CenturyLink building at First and Montgomery in Albany.

If you have an old-fashioned land-line phone just in case you have to call 911 when the power fails and cell towers are knocked out, you may have noticed all the extra charges that drive up the monthly price. If you haven’t noticed, take a look at the next bill you get. You may be surprised. The basic price of local voice service has remained almost unchanged for years, at $12.80 a month. One long distance call adds 15 cents. So how come the bill is $31.71?

First, there are various so-called “related” charges, ranging from a “federal access charge” of $6.50 a month to “extended area calling” and an “access recovery charge.” Then you have an “interstate services fee” of $2.99. Plus you pay one penny for “federal regulatory recovery.”

And now you come to “taxes, fees and surcharges.” There are 11 of these, starting with a federal excise tax of 3 percent and ending with one cent for the Oregon Universal Service Fund. In between there are additional state and federal fees for universal service, a mysterious sounding “facility relocation cost recovery fee” of 15 cents, plus a local franchise tax of 3 percent.

The franchise tax is imposed on the phone company, so you wonder why it’s you who gets billed. Anyway, it all adds up, making the monthly total more than twice the price of basic service.

No wonder if people are cutting back to just one cell. (hh)

One response to “Phone bill: More tax than talk”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Several years ago, when I had a land line, I was able to get some of the fees removed by deleting my long distance service.
    There were some restrictions, such as not using phone cards on that line.
    IF you NEVER use long distance, it may be worth checking out.


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