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Louisiana adds fee to prepaid wireless purchases

If prepaid wireless users benefit from 911 services, shouldn’t they pay into them? Legislators in many states have debated the issue, and most think that something must be done. Louisiana is the first state to act on the prepaid 911 issue. Starting January first, retailers will collect a 911 fee at the point of sale. This money will then go to local districts as additional 911 revenue.

The fee, which is two percent of refill card purchases, will bring Louisiana an estimated $3.9 million per year in revenue. Postpaid wireless and landline users already pay a version of the fee, but with a dwindling number of landlines, the prepaid 911 tax will help replace some of those funds. It also means that people who use the service also pay into it.

“Basically, you had a segment that was using service but was not helping to pay for it,” said Bill Vincent, director of the Lafayette Parish Communications District. “This law closes that loophole.”

The fee goes into effect on January 1.