Verizon Communications may have to pay the state government of Massachusetts about $78 million in new taxes. The Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board approved the taxing of telephone company poles and wires extending over public property by the municipalities in which they are located. Verizon said it is reviewing the ruling to decide what action to take.
In the telephone industry's early days, telcos in many states were given a free ride over public rights of way to encourage network construction, though the advantage has become less significant as these companies have had to expand network facilities onto private property and utility-owned rights of way to extend network coverage and enhance service delivery. At least a few other states (according to a quick search by me this morning) already tax telco use of public rights of way, with the taxes in most cases providing a much-needed revenue boost for the municipalities involved. Perhaps this is the common practice now, but I'm interested to know how widespread it is. Post a comment to this story if you have any information about your state's telco rights-of-way tax practices, and how much the companies are charged.
- read this report at The Boston Globe
L.A. taxes VoIP Article