Ringing out the telephone tax: Congress is about to disconnect the 3 percent federal excise tax on telephone services. The House passed a bill (H.R. 3916) sponsored by Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) by a vote of 420-2. Based on that imposing margin, the Senate is likely to follow suit. Small businesses pay that tax on WATS and Centrex service, subscriber line charges, local and long-distance service and a number of other services. The Portman bill reduces the tax by one percent a year until it is eliminated entirely in the third year.
Hold these calls: Congress is considering a bill that would give consumers more protection from unwanted telemarketing phone calls. The Telemarketing Victims Protection Act would require a telemarketer to inform the person at the other end of the phone line that he or she is eligible to be put on a "Do Not Call" list maintained by the Direct Marketing Association. Telemarketers who are members of the DMA now must check that list before making phone calls. The proposed bill would require all telemarketers to check that list, regardless of whether they are DMA members.