Brief Consumer Glossary of Terms

I have selected a few of the terms to help you get more familiar with understanding your bill and the fees you are paying. If there are any specific charges you would like to understand better that I have not included please feel free to comment on this blog and tell me the name of the charge; I will be happy to look it up and provide you with comprehensive information. 

Federal Universal Service Fee

Universal Service Fees are mandated by the Federal Government and assessed under rules developed by the FCC to support universal service for schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. It is calculated as a percentage of your total monthly long distance charges.”

Federal Universal Service Charge Increase. Effective October 2, 2018 the amount of Federal Universal Service Charge (FUSC) appearing on your bill each month will increase as a result of an increase in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) universal service fund contribution factor from 17.9% to 20.1%.”

Regulatory Recovery Fee

“The Regulatory Recovery Fee is a combination of fees, tariffs, access and usage charges imposed on One Call Now by a wide spectrum of governmental entities, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state public utility commissions, state legislatures, county and city governments. This fee is not a tax.”

GROSS RECEIPTS TAX SURCHARGE

“This is a State tax on the companies’ total revenue and the specific amount varies drastically from state to state and varies in percentage charged depending on which city or county you live in. Other states don’t even have them.” 

“Quite frankly, this is another fee that companies tend to pass on the consumer as a vague, official-sounding tax, but really it allows them to recoup their costs of doing business.”

COUNTY/STATE SALES TAX (OR JUST SALES TAX)

“This is currently a “gray area” tax, meaning it’s both legal and sort of illegal. Technically, internet service is not subject to any miscellaneous taxes or fees thanks to the Internet Tax Freedom Act that became a permanent law in 2016. The Act specifically prohibits federal, state, and local taxation on Internet access.” 

“It’s still legal, however, due to a grandfather clause built into the Act allowing any state that charged this tax before 1998 to continue with the same fee. The good news is that the grandfather clause has an expiration date, and all taxes on the internet will be banned by June 30, 2020.” 

COMMUNICATIONS SALES TAX

This is an official State tax on landline phone. This tax varies from state to state. More information can be found regarding this tax simply by searching the term with the state you’re in, so you can Google either _______ (state name) Communications Sales Tax or Communications Sales Tax For _______(state). 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICE

“This fee goes towards a relay system that helps those who are deaf or hearing impaired communicate over the phone.”

“The relay services helps fund things like internet-based communications through text, voice carry-over, hearing carry-over, and captioned telephone services.”

Part 5 of 10 in the series: The Funding Of Advancements Made To The Telecommunication Capabilities. 

Written By: Crystal Lori-Ann Winkelman (July 2019) 

References and further reading material……

https://www.fcc.gov/search/#q=truth-in-billing

https://www.fcc.gov/general/truth-billing-policy

http://money.com/money/4362527/fees-taxes-charges-cell-phone-bill/

https://help.onecallnow.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/73/~/why-charge-a-regulatory-recovery-fee%3F

http://www.verizon.com/support/smallbusiness/billing/understanding-your-bill.htm

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/understanding-your-telephone-bill

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About the Author: Crystal Lori-Ann Winkelman

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