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Taxation by Telecommunications Regulation

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  • Jerry Hausman

Abstract

Telecommunications regulation in the U.S. is replete with a system of subsidies and taxes. Because of budgetary spending limits, Congress is unable to increase general taxes to pay for social programs and thus funds these programs from taxes on specific sectors of the economy. In this paper I consider the Congressional legislation which established a program so that all public schools and libraries in the U.S. will receive subsidized service to the Internet. The cost of the program is estimated to be $2.25 billion per year. Congress passed legislation that directed all users of interstate telephone service to pay for the program. Using analytical methods from public finance, I calculate the efficiency cost to the economy of the higher taxation of interstate telephone services to fund the Internet access discounts. I estimate the cost to the economy of raising the $2.25 billion per year to be at least $2.36 billion (in addition to the $2.25 billion of tax revenue), or the efficiency loss to the economy for every $1 raised to pay for the Internet access discounts is an additional $1.05 to $1.25 beyond the money raised for the Internet discounts. This cost to the economy is extremely high compared to other taxes used by the Federal government to raise revenues. I discuss an alternative method by which the FCC could have raised the revenue for the Internet discounts which would have a near zero cost to the economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6260.

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Date of creation: Nov 1997
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Publication status: published as Taxation by Telecommunications Regulation , Jerry Hausman. in Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 12 , Poterba. 1998
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6260

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  1. Alan J. Auerbach, 1982. "The Theory of Excess Burden and Optimal Taxation," NBER Working Papers 1025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 2001. "Competition in Telecommunications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262621509, December.
  3. Taylor, William E & Taylor, Lester D, 1993. "Postdivestiture Long-Distance Competition in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 185-90, May.
  4. Hausman, Jerry A, 1981. "Exact Consumer's Surplus and Deadweight Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 662-76, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Jerry Hausman & William Taylor, 2013. "Telecommunication in the US: From Regulation to Competition (Almost)," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 203-230, March.
  2. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "Taxes, High-Income Executives, and the Perils of Revenue Estimation in the New Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 271-275, May.
  3. Ward, Michael R., . "Rural Telecommunications Subsidies Do Not Help," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association.
  4. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2006. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 336-347, May.
  5. Goolsbee, Austan & Klenow, Peter J, 2002. "Evidence on Learning and Network Externalities in the Diffusion of Home Computers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 317-43, October.
  6. Austan Goolsbee, 2006. "The Value of Broadband and the Deadweight Loss of Taxing New Technology," NBER Working Papers 11994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Austan Goolsbee, 2001. "The Implications of Electronic Commerce for Fiscal Policy (and Vice Versa)," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 13-23, Winter.

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