New Jersey law would force Verizon to pay the taxes it avoided for a decade

A 1997 New Jersey law allows telcoms companies to stop paying taxes while continuing their access to municipal infrastructure (poles, land, lines, etc) if they serve fewer than 51% of the people in a city; in 2008, Verizon started to claim this exemption, by 2015, it was paying no municipal taxes to 150 of New Jersey's 565 cities.

Verizon fraudulently claimed this exemption — in some of the cities where it was claiming to provide dial-tone to less than 51% of the residents, it was actually commanding 90% of the market.

Now, Assemblyman John Burzichelli's [D–Paulsboro] has introduced A5450, designed to "force Verizon to pay local taxes on telephone poles, lines, land, and other equipment that the telecom giant has refused to fork over in an increasing number of New Jersey municipalities, starving them of tens of millions of dollars a year in tax revenue." Burzichelli chairs the NJ Assembly's Appropriations Committee and rates the chances of his bill passing as "very good."

The bill would be retroactive to 2007, forcing Verizon to pay a decade's worth of back taxes to many towns. The proposed law would also force companies like Verizon to reimburse towns for attorneys' fees if towns prevail in future court cases over the tax.

Verizon avoided a decade's worth of taxes—a new law could make it pay up [Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica]

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