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EU Moots E-Mail/SMS Tax

Posted: 30th May, 2006 By: MarkJ
French MEP and member of the centre-right European People's Party, Alain Lamassoure, has proposed a tax on e-mails and mobile phone text messages (SMS) as a way to fund the 25-member bloc in the future.

Lamassoure, a member of Jacques Chirac's UMP party, is proposing to add a tax of around 1.5 cents on text or SMS messages and a 0.00001 cent levy on every email sent. "This is peanuts, but given the billions of transactions every day, this could still raise an immense income," he said.

Currently the EU budget is funded through a combination of import duties, value added tax revenues and direct contributions from member states -- the so-called "Gross National Income resource", which is calculated according to wealth.

However, following a year-long battle over the current seven-year budget, agreed last December, it was decided that the way in which the EU is funded should be changed, with new proposals expected by 2008/2009.

A single "EU tax" has found support among many of the 25 EU governments, MEP's and the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. Other ideas include a tax on airline tickets and an extra levy on oil companies.

On the surface it's possible to see how such an idea could come about and it's hardly a major charge, yet there is a significant problem. The majority of e-mail today comes from SPAM (junk mail) and malware (viruses etc.), which in turn do not tend to flow through legitimate channels (can’t charge them).

In other words, businesses, Internet providers and ultimately end-users could end up being unfairly penalised for an element that can not be controlled. Governments would have to find a REAL solution before considering any kind of tax, which is unlikely to happen unless e-mail itself is overhauled to work differently.

Presently the exact details of how such a tax could be implemented are unclear and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it dropped, but then this is the EU we’re talking about.
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