back to article Unused phone lines to be taxed for rural broadband

Unused landlines will be taxed under government plans to subsidise rural broadband, and VAT will be charged on the new 50p per month tax. "The duty will be payable on all local loops that are made available for use by an owner whether or not the lines are actually used," the Treasury said today. "It will also be payable on …

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  1. Tom_
    Unhappy

    Unfair tax

    My Grandma's going to struggle to see why she should pay a broadband tax because she uses a phone.

    1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

      Unfair? Not at all.

      Everything in the PBR was fair. Alistair Darling said it was. Over and over. And over again. To the point that I thought he had shouted "FAIR!!" into the Grand Canyon, and I was just hearing the echo every few seconds.

      I struggle to see why I should pay a broadband tax on my phone line when it's patently an empty political gesture from an idiot. Raise £175m? For a requirement of £5bn*? That'd be about 0.35% of the requirement then? Yeah, big help.

      *remember that £5bn is a BT quote, which undoubtedly includes the expense of the directors' lunches for the next 5 years...

  2. zedee

    You can be sure BT will be all over this

    As soon as you move house and cancel the line, the wire gets physically removed in some way - cut, pulled, gouged, whatever.

    And then the next day the new owner/tenant wants a phone line (solely for ADSL broadband because cable isn't available, natch)....

    BT: "That'll be £120 for fitting a new line please sir!"

    1. Andy Mc

      @zedee

      > BT: "That'll be £120 for fitting a new line please sir!"

      They already do that trick. Tried it on me when I moved into the new place last month.

    2. Andrew Macrobie

      Already the case...

      BT charge you regardless of whether or not there is BT copper going into the premises. Brilliant huh.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Its not just a 50p per month charge though

    I'm betting HM Gov will nick another 17.5% on top as well.

    Another stealth tax.

    Ok Mr Darling. When is 50p not 50p?

    Come on now give us a straight answer.

    I forgot that politicians of all types get a lobotomy that stop them from answering straight questions.

    1. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Its not just a 50p per month charge though

      "I'm betting HM Gov will nick another 17.5% on top as well.

      Please see the first sentence of the article. Thanks,

      - Chris

  4. John 203
    Thumb Down

    Taxing

    So it's tax on the tax. How splendid.

    1. Da Weezil
      Flame

      Why Surprised?

      They already pull the "tax on tax" scam on fuel - VAT being levied on the price per litre including fuel duty.

      You have to admit they are as consistent as they are unfair.

      On market1 we already pay inflated adsl costs for lower caps/slower speeds... so where exactly is the "social justice" in this?

      It stinks.

      The BBC today carried an article about how we are so far down the league in terms of speeds. BT were cited as saying they are rolling out faster services.. and indeed they are.. in areas that already have faster services from cable and LLU. I expect no better from the incompetents we have running this sorry island, We are forced top pay more to wait while the services are further improved for those who already have better than we can get.

  5. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
    FAIL

    So let me get this straight..

    I have VM TV/phone/broadband that I will receive one levy on... fair enough.

    However my house also has a BT line from the pole to the outside wall that has never been connected in the years that I have lived there (previous owner had NTL and I transfered NTL when I moved) .

    So I will be charged an additional levy for a line that I have never received any benefit from and never had a contract for?

    Good luck with billing that one BT.

    if all else fails I'll be up a ladder with wire cutters.

  6. Dick
    Unhappy

    Meanwhile

    in the US of A, AT&T is spending my money running expensively produced ads trying to persuade me that they are doing a great job rolling out high speed internet connections and the government doesn't need to get involved.

    Posted (slowly) from my expensive, highest speed available, AT&T, 768 kbit connection.

  7. A J Stiles
    FAIL

    The real question

    The real question is, why not change the law so that broadband Internet never becomes a necessity in the first place?

    At the moment, it's not illegal for suppliers to charge non-Internet-connected customers higher prices. Banning shonky practices such as this might help even things up a bit.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Staff Packages

    I'm on a Virgin Media staff package. Does anyone know if this will affect me?

    Also my grandparents can't even spell internets, so why should they pay for country folk to get internet?

    50p a month to help fund the new farming websites?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      If you work for Virgin Media ...

      ... you should pay double.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no it bloody isn't fair!!

      Virgin/NTL/C&W have rolled out a fibre network of their own...BT are stuck in the dark ages...How the HELL is it fair that one companys customers pays for the products of another company?

      It exactly the same as being charged 50p per copy of windows that goes straight to Apple. Makes no sense and is yet another step towards total communism in the UK.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      God help VM

      Did you read the article, it said "ANY" connected line.

      Considering BT wants to go to an all IP network in the nearish future, then the internet upgrades are going to be needed anyway to cover the IP traffic and allow room for further lines, which will likely happen as more people live alone or take up the daft "quiverful" idea (have 18+ kids to please god....*rolls eyes*)

      Frankly with attitudes like that, I'd bill London dwellers £5 a month rather than 50p, which in London would be the cost of....half a pint of cheap beer?

      You do realise there are more than farms outwith the cities don't you? We have these things called towns and villages which people commute from into the big dirty cities to work (usually because due some muppet with an MBA and a positive discrimination waiver, claiming the "connectivity was better"....the company shifted at vast cost into the city, meaning everyone has to drive stupid distances....green nation my arse)

      The phone network should be FTTP/FTTH and run by a not for profit, similar to network rail, wont happen though as darth mandy and the rest have their golden payoffs from industry to keep in mind.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      RTFA

      If you actually read the article, rather than just the headline, you'd realise that this is going to be applied to all lines which are connected and usable, not just physically there.

      The headline refers to lines which aren't actually used for voice calls, but that could be used if the customer chose to.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (untitled)

    I understand that goverment doesn't give a damn about their taxes being levied in a fair manner, but neverthelese; if it is beneficial for the community to contribute to broadband roll out, then all should contribute, they should not just find a group to place all the burden on.

    (Unless it's MPs of course.)

  10. Lyndon Hills 1
    Thumb Down

    Virgin + BT

    I wonder if I'll pay £1.00 + VAT? 50p for my Virgin cable plus 50p for my BT phone line. Since the tax is applied to the supplier, BT will tax me for my phone and Virgin will tax me as if I'm using skype or VOIP.

  11. Blitz
    Thumb Down

    They pushed ADSL on us all

    And now they're taxing us for it. What a brilliant model. Tax all of us to help pay to get the network infrastructure in place so that the vast majority of the populace can access DSL and then tax them when it's done.

    A win/win situation for them.

    If Labour remains in power within 5 years the 50p a month tax will turn into £3 and so on. Then one day we'll wake and realize that our broadband tax is equal to our TV license - and at least with that we sometimes get decent telly from the Beeb.

  12. Alex Walsh
    FAIL

    Actually...

    We're taxed on our earnings which we use to pay our phone rental bills with, which have VAT on them already.

    So this broad band tax is a tax on a tax on a tax on a tax and just shows what a shower of gibbering idiots nu labour are.

    We don't have a system of direct taxation here in as much as tax doesn't go directly to fund the things its raised against- eg road tax, fuel duties etc aren't allocated to maintaining our roads, so this will just contribute a paltry sum to the treasury quaffers in the long run.

    We can't afford to make this free but we can afford to contribute £500m a year (highest in Europe) to 3rd world climate change measures, most of which will probably get diverted into PLC's doing the work out there and not make much of a difference anyway. Awesome. If I could afford a hat (which I can' thanks to this government, and if I could they'd probably introduce a Hat tax just to spite me), I'd take it off to this bunch of incompetent nincompoops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In five years?

      If those twats win NEXT year I'll be emigrating!

      Its a shame all the intelligent Brits don't feel the same way, as several hundred thousand of us all beginning the process of jumping ship should stuff them a treat. If the nightmare continues.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bog standard government stupidity

    This is going to cause massive destruction of infrastructure to simply get around a stupid earmark tax. Because as soon as you cut the line it ceases to exist for taxing purposes, not so?

    What they really should be doing is pour all taxes on one big heap, then spend it on immediate needs like education, defence, paying off bonds, and _then_ subsidising extra stuff. Or lowering taxes or potting up a bit or what-have-you. Given a total balance sheet of billions this dicking around for a few hundred million over a decade is plain silly and bad budgeting practices thrown in for good measure. Carry on government.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a good reason to get Mobile Broadband

    maybe this is a cunning plan to get everyone to adopt mobile broadand to avaid the tax?

    Just a thought.

  15. Shinobi87
    FAIL

    retards

    the Gov get worse everyday! They increase the tax on everything and expect everyone who is struggling through the recession to be happy : "oh Vat is back up, oh my shopping costs more, my fuel costs more, things i enjoy like going to the pub costs more, oh ive been made redundant, oh now im being charged more on my phone, etc etc etc". they are idiots! they also think the min wage is a livable wage, yet when people go no it isn't they then fork out for benefits. instead of raising the wage, thus giving people a better quality of life, increasing public spending while decreasing government outgoings!

  16. Titus Aduxass
    Unhappy

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "The Treasury said it expects to collect £175m per year"

    That's (yet) another £175m being taken out of the economy then. No wonder so many businesses are going bust.

    Roll on the General Election.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Meh!

    I live on a remote Scottish island and I pay £23 p/m for a 512kb/s connection with Scotnet

    I don't use Bt for calls, I use 18866.com.

    Bt rip me off for not having direct debit even though I pay online, Ofcom did nothing about that.

    The line rental alone is about £45p/q.

    I do not have any other choice of provider at this exchange.

    Now I have to pay even more.

    Maybe this will encourage more people to go off grid so that the greedy politicians and their corporate buddies can get away with even more.

    If some Afghan phone company would sell me line rental at £5p/m I'd go for it.

  18. Richard 81

    How?

    "Premises with more than one line will have to pay the tax on each. However, for Virgin media customers, where a "line" consists of a co-axial line for internet access and a copper wire for phone, only one levy will be applied."

    How? I'm with VM so my TV, internet and phone all use the cable line, so there's 50p right there. But I also have a physical BT line to the house; a little box with BT written on, wires hanging between my house and the pole in the street etc. but I don't have any kind of contract with BT.

    When they say 50p per 'line', I'm guessing they mean one that actually has traffic going through it, rather than just the infrastructure. If not, colour me indignant.

  19. DavCrav Silver badge

    Change of definition?

    Doesn't VAT stand for Value Added Tax? Where is the value added in a 50p charge, so why should we pay VAT on it?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    The UK Needs a Libertarian Party

    When the rural broadband rollout is completed in 2017 with the tax be repealed? Probably not.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common sense is confused.

    An example, I use VM for phone and broadband = 1 line that will attract the tax.

    My house is also wired for a BT phone-line and always has been since new. It has never been used. Will this also attract the tax?

    If so, I won't pay any BT 'tax' bill until the date is set for the court hearing. I suspect millions of others would do exactly the same. It will be the poll-tax all over again.

    (Prats rioting in London did not stop the poll-tax, millions of decent people threatening to clog up the courts did.)

    Then again, i'm just as likely to rip out the BT line as far as my property boundary.

  22. Dave Murray
    Grenade

    Wtf?

    A tax on tax?!?

    I bet the civil service fuckwad who came up with that one thought he was really clever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Poll Tax

      Yeah. Remember Willie Whitelaw saying (essentially) that the way to get the Poll Tax repealed was not to disobey it but to protest at the ballot box (i.e. pay it but write to your MP! ROTFFL!)? Priceless!

    2. Andy ORourke
      Grenade

      RTFA!

      If you have a BT line which is ACTIVE you pay 50p tax

      If you have a Virgin line which is ACTIVe you pay 50p tax

      So if you have a cable from the BT pole to your house and even have a BT master socket in your house but do not have a BT account or telephone line you DO NOT pay 50p Tax

      FFS people, this tax is wrong, will gradually increase over time, will continue forever (whoever is in power) and is unfair but please let's get our facts right, if you have TWO ACTIVE (i.e. you could make / receive calls on them if you chose to) telephone lines then you will pay the tax twice. if you only have 1 ACTIVE telephone line (regardless of who supplies it) you will only pay the tax once!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      except..

      It's mind-blowingly slow and costs a fortune, and data caps are amazingly parsimonious. Maybe if your network use is limited to facebook, it's adequate, but you only need to watch a few shows via iPlayer or buy a game on steam to come a cropper with "mobile broadband".

  23. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    WTF?

    Truly dumb.

    How the heck is a tax on facilities going to encourage the construction of facilities.

    Like ZEDEE said, it will encourage the ripping out of perfectly good copper.

    D'OH!

  24. Mike Shepherd

    "...and VAT will be charged..."

    An interesting mutation of VAT, which is chargeable at the time of supply.

    What exactly is to be supplied to whom and when?

    The Treasury would need to define a new type of supply, something like "goods or services promised by Local or Central Government to be supplied at some undefined future time and which may not be supplied at any time but for which payment is required by statute".

  25. DEAD4EVER
    Thumb Down

    tax tax tax

    how much more do us brits have to pay on tax. council tax broadband tax tax this tax that this clearly shows its labours ploy to get winnings in the general election sorry but you cant bribe me gordon brown im voting conservative mate i dont care if the conservatives do scrap the broadband tax im sure they will find a replacment for it its not that hard

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      tax tax tax ....

      At least you will be exempt from the punctuation and grammar taxes.

  26. J Ford
    Thumb Down

    Quid pro quo

    I'll accept this as long as we can tax all the countryside dwellers £50 per month to pay for the installation of trees and a nice view on my rundown urban street. Maybe a few sheep making pleasant Baaing too. Fair's fair, end the pastoral divide.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Every cloud

    I wonder if I can use this to finally persuade my mum to move to one of BT's low income packages, which she blatantly SHOULD be on but isn't because well "I don't like change I'm happy as I am thank you!" >:-(

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    A Tax On A Tax??

    What next, VAT on income tax as well? How about VAT ontop of the VAT we already pay??

    "So, thats 25 pounds, plus 17.5% VAT, plus another 17.5% VAVAT..."

    This government wont be happy until the working half of society are paying 110% tax to fund their expenses and their efforts at worldwide policing, social care etc.

    This comes from a taxpayer of 20 years who just recently got told "we will pay your stamp and thats it".

    Happy jobhunting.

  29. Jolyon

    I left the sticks

    So I could have access to things quicker (although at the time my 300/300 modem was as much use there as anywhere).

    I don't see why broadband provision to the provinces needs to be a priority.

    When I was gthere I would have liked a bus service but I didn't expect all car users to have yet another tax to provide me with one.

    If I was to move back to more bucolic surroundings I'd expect to have to give up some of the conveniences of city living or to pay more for them.

    This scheme would only make sense to me if it was propsed by a load of city-dwelling types who felt they needed better services in their weekend country retreats.

  30. fifi
    WTF?

    wtf?

    We use cable for data only.

    A BT copper line is "made abvailable" but we don't use it, nor pay line rental on it to anyone.

    We use VOIP over the cable for our geographic home phone number.

    From this, and section 3.3 and 3.6, it would seem that we need to pay the tax twice, once for the cable internet, and once for the BT line that's redundant. I wonder if we can request BT to remove the line from the local junction box.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I live in the sticks

      And I agree with you 100%.

      I'd agree more but unlike the Chancellor I know a bit of maths.

    2. Andy ORourke
      WTF?

      Don't panic!

      Do you have a BT telephone line? No? Then you wont pay tax on it will you. If you had a BT telephone line (and account) you would pay tax on it (even if you never, ever use it or plug a telephone into it)

  31. seanj
    Flame

    How can this be justified?

    I resent paying a commercial company a tax to upgrade infrastructure that isn't even going to be owned by the taxpayer, that they will then further charge me for the privelege to use!

    I sincerely hope that not only are this lot given the biggest booting in history, but are, one by one, led into an office with a bottle of whisky and a revolver and locked in there till they do the decent thing - now that's a levy I won't mind paying!

  32. dave 93

    Nicholas Negroponte's prediction gets a boost

    He said, in the 90s, that everything you get on wires will go wireless, and everything you got wirelessly would come on a wire. Apart from satellite TV, it's coming true. 6 quid a year? Get over it.

  33. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This is actually pretty smart.

    Oh shut up about hating taxes. Sure no one likes to pay them, but they just like the services provided using these funds.

    This is actually a good thing because its not like BT is going to pay a tax (which gets passed on to the consumer) but also broadband and cellular too. All of telco is taking a hit which means its a smaller increment on you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @@a

      CHEAP whisky though, eh!

  34. corestore
    FAIL

    Two points...

    1. How do they think they'll make people who only use the phone for voice, and have never had internet in their lives, pay a levy so others can have faster internet?

    2. What do you think the chances are that the telcos will go along with this, given its blatant discrimination against fixed lines and in favour of mobile operators - who won't pay any levy at all? All phones or none! The telcos will keep this tied up in court for years before it gets implemented (if ever).

  35. Number6

    Tax on what?

    So if I've got a VirginMedia package that does not include a phone line, do I still have to cough up the cash? It might make me insist they provide me with the line (given that there were no free ports when I had the service installed originally and I still wanted my BT line at that point) so that at least there's something worth taxing. My understanding of the tariffs are that it wouldn't actually cost me any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah!

      My uncle doesn't have a computer, wouldn't know how to use one (so never will), lives in the sticks and has a landline phone! Classic, really (his being a relative, aside).

    2. Andy ORourke
      Unhappy

      Two Points, One answer

      If you (or an elderley relative) have an active telephone line (one that you pay a line rental on and coud use to make or receive calls) then you will pay this tax or end up in court for non-payment of taxes. It will be added to the bill

      If you (or an elderley relative) have an active telephone line (one that you pay a line rental on and coud use to make or receive calls) then you will pay this tax or end up in court for non-payment of taxes. It will be added to the bill

      Simples

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    That'll be over £400 less

    They'll get from me then!

    I only use the 2nd line because it's convenient being charged extra for a Service I don't want or need to fill these Media Snoops Pockets as well is too much!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Badgers

    Maybe I'm on my own here...

    Having lived in the country for a while (I don't any more) and had to put up with paying for an "up to 8mbit" service which provided between 256k and 750k service, I don't mind paying an extra 50p a month to improve unprofitable middle-of-nowhere internet connections.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      good 4u

      please pay mine too

    2. Alan_Peery
      Thumb Up

      Having never lived in the country...

      I still support this tax. It's simple, for the countryside to be productive and friendly for recreation, someone has to live there. Being a nice guy, I want them to have access to the wonderful things that the Internet brings.

  38. clint11

    BT Phone Boxes

    Does this mean that BT will have to pay this tax on the lines to their boxes.

  39. Graham 25
    Alert

    Cable removal

    So prepare for a tender from BT to industry for the removal of all the unneeded cables in rural areas, to reduce their costs, and thereby ensuring that rural faults no longer have any backup in the event of failure.

    The last time BT were 'told' to do something like share colo space, it started the rationalisation of exchange space (purel coincidentally of course) and the sale of buildings so they were unable to share as 'its not ours anymore'.

  40. Someone

    A tax on talking

    In explicitly referencing VoIP, the Treasury has made it clear that it’s a tax on the use of the human voice. Watch out lungs, the breathing tax is on its way.

    1. JaitcH
      Black Helicopters

      You read my mind!

      "The duty will be payable on all local loops that are made available for use by an owner whether or not the lines are actually used," the Treasury said today.

      This seems a typical Labour orgasmic thought. They don't think anything through before opening their mouths.

      Why tax unused capacity It will wind up to what we have in VietNam in the larger cities - miles of 'washing lines' each one installed from the switching centre to the subscriber when someone signed up.

      Many systems are adopting a prewired gridded cabling layout where the major cables intersect in street wiring cabinets and each home has two pairs, installed to provide back-up in case of failure.

      The article also said: "It will also be payable on all local loops regardless of whether the loop consists of a copper pair, a co-axial cable or a fibre connection."

      Does this mean wide area WiFi/Wimax us tax free?

  41. Steven Jones

    Unused lines

    The wording of the article could have been better. Charging for unused copper loops does not mean charging for something that is not connected to the exchange. If you aren't paying for it, then there's no way to surcharge you for it either. Perhaps just a little bit of common sense might be in order.

    As for the people on remote Scottish islands. Your line is already cross-subsidised. Putting a few lines over several miles of windswept moors is going to cost a great deal more in installation and maintenance costs that providing phone or cable to a block of flats in a suburban centre. Those miles of copper cable which slow down the data rate has a direct relationship to the costs of provision. Enjoy the fresh air, lack of pollution and congestion and quite moaning unless some of the urban types wake up and realise that they are cross-subsidising you (and more than for just phone lines).

  42. Martin 71 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Small technical point

    Just one that struck me reading the article rather than the comments <g>

    In what flaming way is an optical fibre a 'local loop'. The morons who came up with this have no idea what they're talking about. A copper pair is a loop (usually).. if you stretch the point, maybe a co-ax could be considered a loop. A fibre doesn't even have electrical continuity so it's hardly a bloody loop! The government are morons!

    After reading the article a couple of times, I think the people with a disconnected BT line can rest easy though, I am reading 'unused' as 'unused for voice', IE. if you're only using the BT line for ADSL, not if a previous occupant of the house once had 12 lines, you'll pay 6 quid :-)

    That obviously hadn't occurred to them. Let's hope the taxweasels don't read el reg!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    2017?

    Ah, 2017?

    It must be a BT high priority job then?

    How long did it take for Russia to get Siberia online?

    1. Dave_H
      Stop

      Not Scottish Islands

      How about in the Midlands (a couple of miles from Althorpe and Northampton to be precise)? Paper sheathed wire in lead pipes on the 2 mile run from the exchange means that we get about 1Mbit when it's been dry for a while and less than 300Kbit when its wet.

      We are not scheduled for an upgrade, because BT management say that they don't have any of this very old wiring left!

      Very little in the countryside is subsidised, mainly because very little is what we get!

      For instance, there are no busses that could get me to and from work on time, so perhaps I could work from home some of the time? Oh no - no broadband means that I have to get into the car to get to work.

      Perhaps, I could use online banking, online purchasing, online local government access? Oh no - no broadband means that I have to get into the car to get to the offices/shops.

      Forget all the money on fancy environmental quango projects, and give us decent broadband so that we don't have to get in the car all the time. I can guarantee that this reduce carbon emmissions more than any quango can!

  44. Ricky H
    Flame

    gah

    Not the bill payer so it doesn't bother me. If I was then i'd find away around paying because my internet works fine as it is without subsidising somebody elses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Could you ...

      ... find "away" to explain why you are not bothered why your bill payer may have to pay more?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    This is a tax (duty) on the operator

    " The duty will be payable on all local loops that are made available for use by an owner

    whether or not the lines are actually used. "

    3.8 The principle reason for applying the duty applying to each local loop is one of simplicity. If

    the duty regime becomes more complex it would become more difficult and expensive for

    industry and HMRC to deliver and administer.

    3.9 A system that required wholesalers or retailers to demonstrate that a line was or was not in

    use would have created significant extra burdens for both industry and HMRC. These burdens

    would be disproportionate to the level of duty receipts that would be affected.

    But the owner of my line is not me but BT. So if I decide I don't need a phone any more, 'cos I can use my mobile for the few calls I make. BT won't be billing me but they will be liable to the duty?

  46. LaughALot
    WTF?

    Why do we tax these services at all

    For some time now I've wondered why we tax telephone or internet access at all?

    Phone: Local government now uses what we in the States refer to as reverse 911 to notify us of a local emergency. So anyone without phone service is left out. The cost of basic service runs about $15 a month, but taxes almost doubles that cost.

    Internet: Aren't we being encouraged to drive less? I generally shop from my computer, don't remember the last time I went to a mall or actually drove around town looking for something.

    If government is truly concerned about global warming, w\then basic internet access should be FREE or at the very least FREE of taxes.

  47. Wortel

    “Treasury”

    Who else read “Treasury” as “Treachery”? I know I did.

  48. petep
    Grenade

    Arseholes-R-Us

    The thieving technically illiterate scumbag bastards in Westminster just never learn, do they? In return for collecting an extra tax levy of less than 1% of the actual cost of their shiny new bollocks, they will only succeed in pissing off 99% landline renters - presumably most of whom will have a vote at the next election.

    Guess who won't be getting my vote next time, for 872 reasons - including this latest act of thievery by these self-serving twat politicians.

  49. bill 20

    Ummmm...wait a mo......

    For those people here who are panicking because they think that they'll be taxed on a BT line that runs to their house even if it is dormant:

    How do you think BT are going to be able to charge you 50p per month for their copper wires running into your home if you don't actually have a contract with them? Where are they going to get your bank details from? Or your name? Unless you're the only person in the house listed on the electoral register, even if they can find out the names of the dwelling occupants, how are they going to know who to send the tax bill to? Get real folks: If the phone line is off and nobody at the house has any contract with BT, they're not going to be able to tax you!

  50. Natasha Live
    Big Brother

    Unused lines not chargable..

    The way I read it is that the householder can not be charged for any unused lines. My logic is that if you are not in a contract with the loop operator then there is no billing system in place to charge you. The operator on the other hand will still end up paying the £6/year for the line.

    This might actually mean that BT will be running around physically disconnecting unused lines from their loops. The disconnect will be a win/win for them: a) no duty when it's not in use, b) a connection fee for any one who wants to use the line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "Unused lines not chargable"

      Well instead of ripping their lines up, I might protect them !!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Dumb and Dumber

    Er, what if you only get your Internet connection from Virgin Media cable and phone service via VoIP or mobile?

    In that case you will only have a co-ax cable for Internet/TV, and not the extra twisted pair phone cable required for a landline.

    No doubt they will still tax you regardless...

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tax virgin to pay bt?!!!!!!!!!

    surely theres got to be some kind of unfair competition thing i taxing virgin media to pay for its rival bt's upgrades?!

  53. Steve Browne
    FAIL

    Maybe it is time to change

    I have a landline used solely for internet, and 0800 numbers. Generally, I make no calls as I have more than enough minutes on my mobile contract. Maybe it is time to look at mobile internet services and dump the landline altogether.

  54. Raymond Cranfill
    Paris Hilton

    Free Lunch Anyone...

    My God. What a bunch of whiners! I've read more comments than I can remember about how bad broad band is in Britain, particularly outside metro areas. Now that there is a plan in place to roll out to rural customers, nobody wants to pay for it. Brilliant! Its 50P a month for crissakes. You all are a bunch of greedy, grasping, scraping old sinners. Bah humbug to the lot of you.

    Paris, because she never worries about 50P.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Fast Internet from BT by 2017 ?

    So I have to wait till 2017 to increase my 1 Meg connection? I pay for 8 but only get 1 Meg

    If you bought 8 beers and opened the box and only 1 was full.... that would be fraudulent.

    So how do they get away with this?

    They should only be allowed to charge for actual speed in which case i'd only pay 3 UKP/month

    that would make them get their arses in gear to upgrade.

    Do they realise Mobile networks are deploying 7.2 Meg & 14.4 Meg over 3G HSPA right now ?

    With many new 3G style routers (and Mi-Fi) emerging its looking like it might be worth a try...

  56. Tom 106

    Tax scam ahead

    From what I am reading, the Gov are intent on charging the BT and Virgin the 50p per line tax which is going to be vattable.

    Thus, BT will pass this charge onto the resellers and their customers. Which in turn may produce extra costings for these companies, therefore, it may result in hight line rental charges exceeding the Gov applied 50p + VAT.

    ie, at present the consumer might pay £10.00 per month line rental, the Line Provider may increase that to £12.00 + 50p rural broadband tax + VAT

    Resulting in the Line Provider gaining extra profit.

    Dosh towards BT's cost of improving their business

    Gordon Brown & co creating another VAT revenue. (and no the Tories will NOT scrap it, simply because the next incoming government need to raise as much cash as possible to pay back the debt.

    The only loser in all of this is the consumer.

  57. Keith T
    Gates Horns

    Government should tax stupidity instead

    Why tax telecommunications that make society at large more efficient to subsidize telecommunications to make rural society more efficient?

    Why not tax something inefficient? Like MPs.

    We should all be taxed 50p per MP, whether our MP works or not.

  58. Neoc

    Government Bullshit - take your pick.

    "Unused landlines will be taxed under government plans to subsidise rural broadband, and VAT will be charged on the new 50p per month tax."

    I may be wrong, but wasn't BT "privatised" a few years ago - and when people complained, they were told that "market forces" would help keep BT in line.

    Now, the government steps in and taxes BT users because "market forces" haven't upgraded the rural lines.

  59. -tim
    Alert

    It could be worse...

    This sounds like a government tax grab based on not understanding how modern telco works. One office has 1600 pairs of lines going to the local telco but less than 300 are used and at least a quarter of those are E1 so do they get counted as one line or 30? Our smaller office has 200 lines in to the building but only about 20 of them are used by the 16 tenants.

  60. Simon Dummett
    Stop

    Rural broadband does not need improvement*

    * for some values of "rural"

    My in-laws live in rural Lincolnshire, in a small village with its own exchange. Their up-to-8Mb package is pretty much up-to-7.5+Mb during the day.

    I live in an area of a large West Yorkshire city whose exchange is physically further away than the area covered by the exchange above - when the village became part of the conurbation, lines were put in to an existing exchange rather than building a new one.

    All the providers in the unbundled exchange will offer is 0.5Mb at best - understandably I'm loathe to change from my current provider as my up-to-16Mb connection is a constant 2.3Mb, but if the best anyone says they will offer is 0.5, that's the most they'd have to try to provide.

    Cable's out as well, as they won't dig up the Wimpy-laid brickwork street, and refuse to run the cable to the house through the back garden (no euphemism intended).

    So taxing this city-dweller 6 quid a year to improve the lot of ruralites is not going to go down well.

    And on top of that, what Value is Added by taking an extra 50p a month? How can VAT possibly be chargeable on it?

  61. rob hindle

    Which telecom provider will get the money?

    Call me a cynic but my guess is that BT would use any dosh they got to prioritise service upgrades in areas already covered by competitive Cable services. If the money really did get to proper rural areas - not wealthy London commuter belt but in the, as usual, disregarded "North of Watford Gap" I'd not mind making a small contribution.

    My guess is that first on the list for upgrade will be Hambleden http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/30/rake_broadband/

    Passing through Treasury and admin little of the money collected will end up being spent doing the job on the ground - and the providers will overcharge for however little work they can get away with.

  62. Andy 70

    2017?

    let me get that straight, twenty bloody seventeen?

    that's it, i'm running my own fibre, and leasing out half the bandwidth.

  63. Eddie Edwards
    FAIL

    Do I really care?

    Another £6 per year for a phone line? Do I give a shit? I just saved £6 per *month* on my phone line moving to Utility Warehouse, and I didn't really give a shit about that either.

    Anyway are we talking about unused lines (as in para #1 of article) or all lines (as in para #2 of article). I'll judge this after someone explains it carefully.

  64. Defiant
    Thumb Down

    Let them pay for their own broadband

    Why don't they just tax those in rural areas more for their own broadband. This country is becoming more and more communist

    1. FlatSpot
      WTF?

      Ok

      Sure, I'll pay more tax on broadband if you give me a reduction on the council tax. As I dont have a school within miles, dont have street lights, no library, no community centre, swimming pool or in fact any service from the council, except tipping a bin once a week.

      But I expect you want me to subsidise your bag right? .....Its about living in a society that you take the good with the bad, rather than a selfish I'm all right Jack attitude, similar in fact to how the banking sector has operated??

    2. Ivor Kintol D'uso
      FAIL

      Let them pay for their own broadband

      OK cretin - We'll do you a deal: we'll pay more for our broadband if we can stop paying for your food (not a lot of that grown in cities), power (guess where all the power stations are?) water (many reservoirs in Kensington?) & paying for your trains, police, pavements, public lighting & a host of other services too tedious to mention which aren't available in the country.

      All of OpenReach should be seized back into government control & fibre layed to 95-7% of homes with wireless provision for the last 3% at the same price. Would cost less than Northern Rock & improve the country, which after 12 years of Labour surely NEEDS it.

  65. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Must get new glasses

    I read the first line as "Unused landmines will be taxed". It's what the People's Princess would have wanted.

  66. Mandrin
    FAIL

    Oh no! Feel our pain...

    Welcome to South Africa...

    Here we pay a "line rental" charge of about 8 Pounds a month just to have the "privilege" of having a phone line running to our homes. We have to pay this whether we make voice phone calls or not. Why do we "have" to pay this fee you ask.... Because we only have one State/HalfPrivatised Hybrid monopoly that has been getting away with this tosh for years now. ADSL? Yup, we still have to pay the "line rental" charge as well as the ADSL profile account charge...

    Seems like your "Bosses" in government have been taking a lesson from our fellers in how to squeeze every drop of blood from what should be a basic service at a low charge, if not completely free...

  67. Rogerborg

    Let me get this straight

    So ZanuLabour will gouge 50p + VAT per line out of BT and Virgin in order to provide broadband access to 4 sheep farmers in Wales.

    But who, pray tell, will actually roll the cable out? Would that be... mmm... BT and Virgin?

    And why would they do that? Because Mr Taxman will give them some of our money back to do it with? Well, no, because they'll just use that money to gorge themselves on swan pate unless they're forced to spend it. Which will require binding legislation or a statutory instrument.

    So since the legislation/instrument will force them to do it, wouldn't it be more efficient and - gasp - competitive to let them decide how they're going to fund it, rather than stealing money from us, via them, blowing half of it on bean counters, then giving the dregs back?

    What's the real story here? I'm guessing that some half-wit nephews and cousins need a cushy placement on a Quango, and all the existing ones are full.

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