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Europe To Consider Tax On E-Mail

A French politician is proposing that the European Union tax every email and text message sent from within the 25-nation bloc, according to online reports.
LONDON — A French politician is proposing that the European Union tax every email and text message sent from within the 25-nation bloc, according to online reports.

The proposer is Alain Lamassoure, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and rapporteur of the European Parliament's budget committee. He has suggested that users of European networks pay 0.15 euro (about $0.20) on SMS text messages and 0.00001 euro on every email, the reports said.

Lamassoure has called a meeting with MEPs from all the EU’s 25 member countries for June 21 where the taxation plan is set to be discussed with Laszlo Kovacs, the EU budget commissioner, the reports said.

The tax is being proposed as a way to raise money to pay for the European Union's aid programs, research programs and politicians and bureaucrats. This spending is paid for at present by the contributions of the member states. The recent admission of poorer countries from Eastern Europe means that many EU countries are now net beneficiaries of EU funding rather than net contributors, putting increased pressure on wealthy countries such as France, Germany and the U.K., and prompting brainstorming on new ways to raise revenue.

Imposing a tax on Internet use was first examined by the European Union and the U.K. government in the mid 1990s. At the time it was decided that a tax on internet use was probably impractical and, in any case, inadvisable as governments wanted to encourage the adoption of computers and information technology among their populations as a means to increase wealth generation.

A bigger concern at the time was the use of the Internet for international purchasing as a way to avoid value added tax.

One side benefit of a tax on emails is that it could help reduce “spam”. Spam, the collective term for vast volumes of illegitimate and ill-intentioned email, has ballooned to as much as 75 percent or 80 percent of total email traffic, largely because there is zero cost to sending emails.