Competition in the previously monopolistic telecommunications industry is wonderful. Technological advances are terrific and create incredible opportunities for businesses and consumers, alike. We can all agree on these two universal truths, right?
Where there is plenty of disagreement, however, is in the role Government should play in the regulation and taxation of the “telecommunications” and “communications/information technology” industries.
But regardless of one’s view of the “appropriate” role of Government, the one thing none of us can deny is that Government does, indeed, play a very important role in regulating and taxing these sectors of the U.S. economy. We can debate the merits and efficacy of Government involvement until we are blue in our faces, but policy isn’t what our clients find most important. Our clients, and businesses in general, are far more interested in knowing what the rules are and how they apply to them so they can comply (or assume calculated risks). Businesses want clarity and certainty. They want regulations they can comprehend. And, they want all of their competitors to know what the rules are too, because they want a fair and level playing field. Lastly, they want equal enforcement of the rules by the Government, whether federal, state or local. In a word, they want Utopia!
Unfortunately, the world we live in at the moment is far, far away from Utopia. Regulating and taxing a highly competitive, rapidly evolving industry simply does not lend itself to cleanliness and simplicity. Things are messy out there, folks!
Thanks to the digital age we live in, all it takes is a Google search to confirm just how messy and confusing things really are. There are no shortages of “opinions” and “views” about this regulation or that., this tax or that. Does it apply? Or are we exempt? In fact, there’s so much disparate information floating throughout the Internet ether it’s quite possible anyone with an opinion about a particular regulation will be able to find an article, blog or comment that supports their pre-conceived belief — even if it’s factually and/or lawfully incorrect. You see, the messy environment does not lend itself to a great many black & white, yes/no, binary answers.
The CommLaw Group sees it all the time, especially when we meet prospective clients that have previously relied on “the Internet” as their source of regulatory and tax compliance guidance!
With this background in mind, our firm is launching a new series of Educational Advisories that we call “MYTHS & MISPERCEPTIONS.” The purpose of our Myths & Misperceptions Educational Advisory Series is to shine a light onto a variety of legal/compliance issues communications and information technology companies are likely to encounter. Our goal is not to provide black & white answers to shades of gray questions. Instead, our objective is to dispel some of the “Myths & Misperceptions” that we know businesses encounter based on our practical experience and awareness of certain misleading information on the Internet.
If we get you to take a second look at an issue you mistakenly believed was “cut & dry,” and through this closer look your company is able to remediate or mitigate exposure, then we have succeeded in delivering value. Perhaps more importantly, if our “Messy Truths” are able to cut through the “Simple, Binary Inaccuracies” we and the industry frequently encounter on the Internet, and well-intentioned but confused competitors awaken to the realities of operating in the regulated and taxed communications industry, then we hope we can succeed in leveling the playing field by reducing opportunities for regulatory arbitrage. Either way, we hope our clients and loyal subscribers appreciate the information we share.
Without further adieu, we invite you to download the second Topic in our series of Myths & Misperceptions Educational Advisories:
MYTHS & MISPERCEPTIONS EDUCATIONAL ADVISORY SERIES: Topic #2
De-Mystifying the Wholesaler & Reseller/Retailer Tax and Fee Exemption Processes, Requirements and Obligations
Retailers of resold telecommunications services do not need to register and/or pay taxes and regulatory fees if their Supplier has already done so.
Retailers of resold telecommunications services remain responsible for registration and payment of taxes and regulatory fees regardless of their Supplier’s conduct.