CenturyLink loses three-year battle to overturn Portland, Ore. telephone tax

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) has lost its three-year challenge to a overturn a telephone service tax in Portland, Ore.

In 2012, the Portland City Council voted to levy a tax on phone service gross revenues as a way to raise $5 million to pay for federally mandated police reforms.

Under this tax structure, Portland could apply taxes not only to POTS (plain old telephone service), but also other common calling features like call waiting, voice mail and caller ID, according to a report in The Oregonian.

At that time, CenturyLink and fellow telco Frontier Communications jointly told the Portland City Council that the expanded tax would raise prices for their customers. 

In January 2013, CenturyLink filed a lawsuit against Portland over the wireline phone service tax that went into effect that month. However, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled last week that the new tax complies with the laws set in Oregon's state Legislature.

CenturyLink will continue pass the cost of the tax on to their phone subscribers, who have been paying it since June 2013.

At issue was the cost of the tax. Portland estimated the annual cost would come in around $3.84 to $9.24 per subscriber. CenturyLink argued that the tax would cost subscribers between $5.52 and $19.44 each year.

Although CenturyLink lost the latest round in this battle, the telco may take its case to Oregon's state Supreme Court.

"We are reviewing the decision and are considering our options," said Mark Molzen, CenturyLink corporate communications manager, in a written statement provided to The Oregonian.

For more:
- The Oregonian has this article

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CenturyLink appeals Oregon court's phone tax ruling
CenturyLink sues Portland, Ore. over new wireline phone tax
CenturyLink, Frontier protest Portland, Ore. wireline tax hike