The Maryland Communications Tax Reform Commission held its last meeting prior to the start of the General Assembly session to continue its discussion of the communications tax and fee structure in Maryland. The Commission plans to resume meeting in May to develop its final report and recommendations, which are due by June 30, 2013.
During the December 5 meeting, members were briefed on the “The Changing Face of Communications” by a representative from AT&T, heard from the satellite industry on cable franchise fees, and heard from certain members on policy proposals they would like the Commission to consider.
With respect to cable franchise fees, the satellite industry noted that there is a distinct difference between these fees and communication taxes. They indicated that franchise fees are a cost of doing business, not a tax, and therefore, should not be a part of the Commission’s discussion. As an equal approach, they suggested imposing a sales tax on all video services.
The wireless industry proposed two options for communications tax reform: 1) Comprehensive state-local communications tax reform; and 2) Reform of discriminatory telecommunications taxes. Both proposals have negative consequences for local governments. Other communication carriers did not present policy proposals.
Instead of a policy proposal, representatives from MACo and the Maryland Municipal League (MML) offered a set of principles to be considered as the Commission evaluates policy options. The key three principles are listed below.
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