Let's talk about: the broadband tax in the UK

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They’re trying to balance the books over in the UK, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed a tax that may interest you. The proposed budget for the next year includes a broadband tax! The name is a bit misleading in that it’s not a tax on broadband, but a tax on telephone landlines (POTS), the money of which will go to making sure people in rural areas have sufficient access to broadband.

It’s not a very large tax at £6 (around $9.72) per year, but I’m sure it’ll annoy a number of people.

The goal is to have 90 percent of the UK wired for broadband by the end of 2017. And considering the UK is about the size of Oregon, maybe then you’ll understand why it’s so difficult to wire the entire U.S. for broadband. If you live in a rural area, well, tough cookies.

There’s several criticisms of the tax. One is that it won’t raise enough money to wire the UK for broadband (the tax will raise some £170m), while others are all, “We prefer a market-led solution.”

The “others” would be leaders in the Conservative party, which are pretty much a lock to win the next general election.

Imagine such a tax here in the U.S. The federal government levies a tax on, say, car purchases or TVs bigger than 50 inches (or whatever, it doesn’t matter) in order to pay for broadband in Middle of Nowhere, USA. If you think broadband is important to economic growth then it’s hard to be against such an idea. Yes, there will be the people who scream, “Don’t tax me, you scoundrels!” but they’re always like that.

So if we have any UK readers, here’s my question: is there a “buzz” around the broadband tax, or does nobody give a damn? That the tax only applies to hard landlines probably means that nobody under the age of 30 will be affected.

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