NGA report: Telecom taxes 'burdensome'

State and local government tax policies for the telecommunications industry are overly complicated and burdensome, according to a report released Tuesday by Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt, chairman of the National Governors' Association.

The report, "Telecommunications Tax Policies: Implications for the Digital Age," is the first in a series based on Leavitt's theme of "strengthening the American state in the new global economy." The report, however, is not NGA policy.

"The telecommunications industry as a whole is overtaxed in a complex, burdensome system," Leavitt said during a telephone press conference. "We need to establish competitive neutrality and encourage infrastructure development, especially in rural areas."

Leavitt said as services are increasingly bundled by vendors with cable television, telephone and Internet services all in the same pipe, a "radical simplification" of state and local taxes is needed to allow "market efficiency to determine who the winners and losers are."

In Leavitt's home state of Utah, an agreement has been reached with AT&T that incorporates all of the company's packaged services into one bill. "We need a level playing field as these technologies begin to converge," he said.

NGA executive director Ray Scheppach said the association would help coordinate a group of six to eight states to work toward simplifying their telecommunications tax policies. "Then, we'll go back to the federal government if we need legislation," he said.


  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected