Telephone Tax Increased To Pay For 911 Upgrades in Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Legislature has passed and sent to the governor a measure to increase the tax on phone bills. The extra money raised will go to pay for 911 system upgrades. The increase amounts to 25 cents per line per month split between the state and individual counties. During the Washington House debate, Republican Representative Ed Orcutt and Democrat Christopher Hurst disagreed over the wisdom of the tax hike. 

Ed Orcutt: “Here we go again. We're looking at another tax increase in the middle of a recession, Mr. Speaker. Have you looked at the unemployment rates?”

Christopher Hurst: “Let's talk about how much money this is. This is 25 cents, a user fee. Today we have texting. We have cell phones. The explosion in cell phones is a very good point. The system is becoming overburdened with phones, with new technologies.”

In that vein, voice over internet subscribers would start paying 911 tax if Washington's governor signs the pending measure.

Dispatch system upgrades could allow people, including the hearing-impaired, to text 911. Today, summoning for help with a text message is considered unreliable and inadvisable.

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