HJR 651: Joint Subcommittee Studying the State and Local Taxation of
the Telecommunications Industry
July 23, 2003
During the final
meeting of the joint subcommittee studying the state and local taxation
of the telecommunications industry, legislative staff presented the principles
that had guided two years of negotiations between industry and local government
representatives and the proposed framework that will allow the continuation
of the work already done. This information will be presented by the HJR
651 Chairman to the SJR 347 Tax Commission, as directed in the resolution
creating this subcommittee.
The principles that
the interested parties followed in developing the framework for changing
the way communications and video services are taxed are as follows:
- Reduce consumer
- Consolidate taxes,
- Make taxes uniform
- Reduce the tax
rate on the vast majority of Virginians,
- Make taxes competitively
- Preserve state
and local government revenues,
- Establish a single
point of administration.
Taxes to be Repealed
If agreement can
be reached on all the details of a new plan for taxing communications
and video services, it will take effect July 1, 2005, and repeal:
- Local consumer
utility tax (only on communications),
- Local gross receipts
tax (only portion billed to consumer where applicable),
- Current E-911
- Virginia relay
- Cable franchise
The proposed framework
under which discussions will continue in an effort to develop draft legislation
is comprised of the following five components.
1. The simplified
plan would impose a statewide sales and use tax of 4.5 percent on communications
and video services and an E-911 fee not to exceed $0.75 on wireline
2. Tax revenues
collected would be remitted to a single point of administration, possibly
a third party administrator.
would be kept whole based on (i) tax rates adopted no later than July
1, 2003, and (ii) revenues from such rates collected beginning July
1, 2003, and ending June 30, 2004, as determined by the Auditor of Public
4. The sales
and use tax imposed on communications and video services will be in
lieu of the retail sales and use tax; however, the rate of such tax
will not exceed the retail sales and use tax rate.
5. The distribution
of revenues under this plan will be determined by the local governments
and approved by the General Assembly.
Some members of the
joint subcommittee expressed concern about the fact that the new tax plan
would broaden the base of services that would be taxed to include satellite,
long distance, pagers, and calling cards. In response, the industry representative
explained that including these was necessary to achieve competitive neutrality
and therefore, fairness. All members agreed that reducing the overall
tax burden was a positive result of the plan.
The joint subcommittee
approved the motion to continue with the work of the negotiating team
(industry and local government representatives) in an effort to work out
all of the details in order for proposed legislation to be drafted for
introduction in the 2004 General Assembly Session and submitted to the
SJR 347 Tax Commission no later than November 1, 2003.
The Hon. L. Preston Bryant, Jr.
Joan E. Putney
Division of Legislative Services
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