Designing Tech at All Ages, Proposed Wireless Tax Relief in Florida, and More.

Check out this roundup of industry news that we shared on social media this week:

90 Year Old Woman Still Designing Tech Products

For Barbara Beskind, solving problems with tech design for people of all ages is something that she takes pride in. via NPR

Florida Proposes Cellphone, TV Tax Cut

Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed a tax cut for Florida wireless customers that would save approximately $470 million annually and cut the cellphone tax rate by 3.6 percent. via The Washington Post

Pennsylvania 911 Fee Debate

With Pennsylvania consumers paying one of the highest 911 rates, the debate to raise this fee without examining how the funds are currently distributed should be monitored closely.

Prevent Internet Tax Discrimination

The Institute for Policy Innovation discusses the importance of Congress passing PITFA in order to prevent discriminatory taxes on our Internet access. via IPI

Setting the Record Straight: The 911 Fee Debate in Pennsylvania

You may have read that some leaders in Pennsylvania have been considering increasing 911 fees that Pennsylvanians pay on their phone bills. They’re claiming that since landline 911 revenues are declining, there is a shortfall of funds for 911 services.

But before I get into why this argument is wrong, let me first be clear: 911 should be funded because it allows emergency personnel to respond when a caller dials 911.

Thanks to the increase in the number of cellphone and smartphone users, the 911 fees on those monthly bills has more than offset the decline in fees collected from landline consumers.

In fact, comparison of wireless subscriber growth to the consumer price index (CPI) says there was more than a 250% increase from 2000-2012 in wireless subscribers, compared to a 45% CPI increase during the same period.

According to Congressional reports, Pennsylvania collected more than $192 MILLION in 911 fees in 2013. This is the second highest collection of 911 fees in the country, just behind Texas.

The problem isn’t funding, but how those resources are distributed. Fees collected from landline customers are remitted to the counties directly, while fees collected from wireless and voice over IP (VoIP) customers are remitted to the Commonwealth, which decides how funds will be distributed.

State leaders need to create a fair, reliable and efficient system of collecting and distributing 911 fees. And, they have to find a fair way to make up for small shortfalls in some counties that assess higher landline fees.

Before the legislature considers any 911 fee increase, it’s important to keep in mind Pennsylvania wireless consumers already pay one of the nation’s highest 9-1-1 rates at $1.00 per month for contract wireless consumers and $1.00 per retail transaction for consumers who purchase prepaid (pay-as-you-go) wireless services. This is the 5th highest 911 fee in the country.

The funds to help Pennsylvanians receive assistance during an emergency are already available without imposing new fees on wireless customers, so it’s time to look at how they are distributed before increasing fees on Pennsylvania users

Note: A previous version of this blog post cited 2012 PA 911 collection fees, but was updated 1/26/15 to reflect the recently-released 2013 numbers.

Proposed Tax Relief for Florida Wireless Consumers

Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed providing Florida wireless consumers some much-needed tax relief. If passed as part of the Governor’s budget, wireless consumers would save approximately $470 million annually.

Florida residents currently pay the fourth highest (22.38 percent) in combined federal, state and local wireless taxes in the nation. If the legislature approves this plan, it would cut the cellphone and TV tax rate by 3.6 percent. This would take Florida out of the top ten worst offenders.

These tax cuts would be a huge step forward to eliminating excessive and discriminatory taxes on communications services that people depend on to stay connected. We’ll keep you posted on developments as this plan moves forward.

Bipartisan Support for Banning Internet Access Taxes, MD Wireless Taxes Hurting Consumers, and More.

Check out this roundup of industry news that we shared on social media this week:

Bipartisan Support for Bill on Internet Tax Ban

The House introduced a bill last Friday to prevent states from taxing your Internet access. via The Hill

Wireless Taxes in MD Hurting Consumers and Industry

With so many wireless-only consumers in Maryland, the high wireless tax rates are burdening low-income consumers and preventing growth in industry infrastructure. via

2015 is the Year to End All Threats of Internet Access Taxes

A new year’s resolution for Congress should be to finally end the looming threat of Internet access taxes by creating a permanent moratorium. Via The Daily Caller

Flashback Friday: How Does Wireless Work?

Doc takes us on an adventure inside our wireless devices to show how you can check e-mail, play Candy Crush, text and stay connected every day… wirelessly!

House Introduces New Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act

Representatives in the new Congress are helping consumers by advocating to make Internet access permanently tax free.

The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), H.R. 235, was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressmen Tom Marino (R-PA), Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

You might remember that last Congress, the House passed PITFA by voice vote, but the legislation stalled in the Senate so a temporary extension of the moratorium was passed in the “lame duck” session.

I don’t need to tell you how important Internet access is to American consumers and businesses – you and I use it every day. Thanks to the ban on taxing Internet access since 1998, the Internet developed into an essential part of our lives. That’s why the extension has been temporarily extended many times with bipartisan support.

“Whether business owners or jobseekers, grandparents or students, all Americans benefit from tax-free access to the Internet. Internet access drives innovation and the success of our economy. It is a gateway to knowledge, opportunity, and the rest of the globe. And year after year, Congress has chosen to temporarily extend the bipartisan ban on Internet access taxes. The time has come to make this ban permanent,” said Chairman Goodlate.

We agree. It’s time to make the ban on Internet access permanent, and we’re glad to see the House taking action. We’ll keep you posted on what happens next.