Nadler Introduces Telephone Tax Relief for Seniors Act

Oct 5, 2004

Washington, DC -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today introduced the Telephone Tax Relief for Seniors Act, legislation that provides tax relief for low-income seniors on their phone bills. The legislation responds to a basic but fair complaint of many senior citizens: while many barely use their phones, they find that the taxes and fees on their phone bills are more costly than the charges for their actual phone use.

"Few populations need their phones more critically than do senior citizens, yet despite their low usage of phones, seniors are gouged with unfair taxes and fees," said Nadler. "With health care and other costs rising, seniors on fixed, low-incomes should not have to face the prospect of disconnecting their phones and living without a vital lifeline to the outside world. The government can and should provide assistance to low-income seniors to help them maintain their phone services."

Nadler's legislation would apply to both local and long distance service, whether a senior has a flat-rate plan or a plan that pays per minute. It will cover all federal taxes and federally-mandated fees. The exemption would be limited to seniors 65 and older living at or below 200 percent of the poverty line -- approximately 13.4 million senior citizens nationwide.

Seniors interested in the tax exemptions would apply to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for certification by providing proof of age and income. The FCC will in turn notify phone companies to not tax seniors eligible for the benefit. The legislation also includes funding to educate seniors about the benefit.

"If wealthy Americans continue to be rewarded with tax breaks by the President and Republican Leadership in Congress, there's no reason why low-income seniors should not benefit from a tax break on their phone bills," said Nadler.