Communication Taxes and Fees

The CommLaw Group’s Communications Taxes & Fees practice group provides clients with experienced counsel on a wide-variety of federal, state and local taxes, including sales, use, excise and transaction taxes, 911/E911 fees, and other “tax-like” regulatory fees applicable to communications services and products. We represent communications service providers in the landline, wireless, long distance, VoIP, enhanced services, and conferencing and call bridging markets, as well as the suppliers and manufacturers serving these entities. Our experience covers:

  • Assisting with tax planning
  • Conducting compliance reviews
  • Providing alerts of proposed and adopted changes in tax laws by the states and the Multistate Tax Commission
  • Advocating before taxing and regulatory bodies
  • Interpreting statutory provisions and administrative rulings
  • Assisting clients with the different aspects of audits ranging from:
    • Developing audit avoidance strategies
    • Conducting risk analysis and mitigation techniques
    • Providing audit defense
    • Assisting with reverse audits and appeals
    • Litigation – both prosecution of claims and defense of assessments

Our firm’s Communications Taxes & Fees practice group helps guide clients to reach optimal solutions and offers professional assistance with regard to a wide variety of complex tax and regulatory fee issues, including:

  • Sales, Use and Telecom transaction taxes; excise taxes – federal and state
  • 911/E-911 for VoIP, wireless and switched telecommunications
  • Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) audits and FCC investigations
  • Universal Service Funds, telecom relay services funds, regulatory fees—federal and state
  • Supply chain enforcement and tax exemptions – strategies, planning, development and implementation of compliance programs
  • Strategic advice on apportionment methodologies
  • Dispute resolution – carrier-to-carrier and governmental
  • Billing audits to verify accuracy of pass-through taxes and fees to establish eligibility for refunds and credits, and to reduce or avoid certain taxes and fees
  • Audit defense before state Departments of Revenue, State Utility Commissions, USAC, FCC and other federal and state tax or regulatory authorities
  • Guidance on initiatives by States and the Multistate Tax Commission to tax out-of-state retailers and proposed Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement
  • Tax Amnesty programs

“Telecommunications is one of the four most highly taxed industries in the U.S. With few remaining exceptions and limited exemptions, Voice over the Internet (VoIP) is not far behind. You need expert support and a comprehensive, Regulatory Risk Management program to maximize compliance and minimize exposure, all without sacrificing competitive positioning!”


Analysis & Strategic Planning

As a result of deregulation, convergence and a variety of technological, regulatory and economic factors, federal, state and local taxes and other impositions are growing and often represent an unrecoverable burden on a company’s profitability. However, these taxes and impositions can be reduced or, in some instances eliminated, by adjusting the way in which business is conducted.

The CommLaw Group’s tax analysis and planning services can be used by clients to adjust existing business relationships and/or operations, marketing, sales, billing and accounting practices, and organizational structures, in order to minimize or eliminate federal, state and local tax and regulatory impositions without adversely affecting the client’s core business goals and plans.

Audit Defense

The CommLaw Group can comprehensively manage the audit process from beginning to end, providing focused assistance on any aspect of an audit’s different phases, such as the process of producing records, identifying the information required to establish a best-case position, advocating and negotiating with authorities to accept that position and build a solid record should an appeal be warranted, and assisting with settlement and payment plan negotiations. We will control and manage the day-to-day information flow between our client and the taxing or regulatory authority ensuring timely, complete, and accurate responses. When possible, we will invoke accelerated dispute resolution processes that are available to reduce the costs and time burdens associated with resolving complicated tax and fee assessments, audits, or alleged deficiencies.

We represent our clients’ interests during audits to ensure they pay only their lawfully required share. Our audit representation provides a comprehensive range of services, including:
• Audit coordination
• Audit review and opportunity assessment
• Controversies and appeals
• Responses for information and document requests
• Risk assessments
• Tax, PUC or USAC audit representation
• Compliance and reporting evaluation
• Taxability determinations
• Voluntary disclosure and registration (in association with our affiliates)
• Negotiated settlements

Few industries are taxed as heavily and extensively as Telecommunications. As communications technology migrates to the Internet, Smartphones, and other forms of Voice over Internet (VoIP) services, the tax authorities and regulators are not far behind. Indeed, in the vast majority of jurisdictions, taxation of communications transmission services is “Protocol Agnostic.”