The Alabama 911 Board recently approved an increase of the E-911 tax levied on its citizens, set to go into effect on August 1. The new rate will be $1.75, up from $1.60, and is one of the highest in the country.
In addition, under this legislation the state's E-911 tax will also now apply to participants in the federal Lifeline Wireless program, which supplies free phone services for those in need to help them get and/or maintain employment. This is the first time in history that the tax has been levied on this group of people, and it has therefore received a good deal of opposition.
A mix of state and national organizations submitted a letter to Governor Robert Bentley, urging him to “direct Alabama’s 911 Board to repeal its unfair and prohibitively expensive Emergency 911 (E-911) tax” and “exempt Lifeline participants from one of the nation’s highest E-911 taxes.” The letter is signed by the Alliance for Generational Equity, Consumer Action Partnership of Alabama, Community Action Partnership, Consumer Action, the National Consumers League, The National Grange and the North Alabama Patriots Tea Party.
Needy citizens under this law will thus suffer from a 19 percent tax rate on the already limited credit from the federal government, which the above groups argue is quite unnecessary and extremely counterproductive to the goals of the Lifeline Wireless program. In the past year the Alabama 911 Board has increased the tax by an astonishing 150 percent.
The letter praises the work of emergency responders, but complains that that amount of funding should not be necessary. Seeing as Alabama has one of the highest rates of any state, and thirteen other states have recently been found to be redirecting millions of dollars in E-911 revenue to other areas of budgets, this is a legitimate concern.
The organizations are still awaiting a response from Governor Bentley, if there even will be one. As of now the law is still set to go into effect on August 1.
Edited by Alisen Downey