Table of Contents
Definition of a Telecommunications Provider
Q1. Who is a telecommunications provider in Oregon?
A telecommunications provider or telecommunications carrier may be a competitive provider, competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), interexchange carrier (IXC), shared service provider, reseller, telecommunications utility, telecommunications cooperative, or telecommunications association. For more information, see OPUC´s website under Telecommunications, Telecommunications Providers, Utility Company Search Page.
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Definition of a Utility
Q2. Who is a utility in Oregon?
Utilities may provide electric, gas, steam heat, telecommunications, water, or wastewater service. A telecommunications utility is defined in Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 759.005. A public utility is defined in ORS 757.005 and may provide electric, gas, steam heat, water, or wastewater service.
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Oregon State Excise, Income, and Property Taxes
Q3. Where can I get information about state excise, income, and property taxes?
See Department of Revenue at http://www.dor.state.or.us.
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Rights of Way
Q4. Where can I get information about rights of way?
For information about rights of way and standardization, OPUC´s contact is Michael Thompson at Michael.Thompson@state.or.us.
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City Fees and Assessments
Q5. What fees and assessments may a city charge a telecommunications provider or utility?
Cities may charge franchise fees, privilege taxes, business taxes, and other assessments on utilities´ and telecommunications providers´ operations. OPUC limits the total amount of taxes, fees, and other assessments that may be buried in utilities´ rates. For telecommunications, see Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 860-022-0042(4), OAR 860-034-0330, and OPUC Order 90-1031. For electric, gas, and steam heat utilities, see OAR 860-022-0040.
Q6. How much can cities charge a public utility?
Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 221.420 lets cities determine the terms and conditions under which a public utility may operate, including payment of charges and fees. ORS 221.450 limits the amount of privilege tax on public utilities operating without a franchise to 5 percent of the public utility´s gross revenues earned within the city. Under ORS 221.655, for a public utility providing direct access, a city may choose to levy a volumetric-based privilege tax in lieu of a revenue-based fee; the volumetric rate is limited to the equivalent of the revenue-based fee rate in 1999.
Q7. How much can cities charge a telecommunications utility?
Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 221.515 lets cities impose and collect privilege taxes of up to 7 percent from telecommunications utilities for the use of streets, alleys, and highways. See ORS 221.515, which refers to ORS 401.710(15) to define "utility," which in turn refers to ORS 759.005 and ORS 133.721. A city may impose a privilege tax on gross revenues derived from "(a) telephone exchange access lines or channels that provide local access by a subscriber in this state to the local telecommunications network to effect the transfer of information; and (b) unless a separate tariff rate is charged therefore, any facility or service provided in connection with the services described in [ORS 401.701(6)(a)]", less net uncollectibles derived from such revenues (ORS 401.710(6)).
Q8. Are there limits on how much telecommunications providers and utilities may include in tariffed rates?
In other words, ORS 221.515 defines "gross revenues" as net revenues from basic access rates. This definition excludes revenues from additional services, intrastate toll, and extended area service (EAS) and appears to correspond with OPUC´s definition of basic telephone service (OAR 860-032-0260).
The answer varies depending on the entity. For gas utilities, OPUC allows up to 3 percent of the cities´ total franchise fees, privilege taxes, and other taxes in the utilities´ operating expenses (OAR 860-022-0040(1)).
Q9. Whom should I contact for more information about city fees and assessments?
For electric, steam heat, water, and wastewater utilities, OPUC allows up to 3.5 percent of the cities´ total franchise fees, privilege taxes, and other taxes in the utilities´ operating expenses (OAR 860-022-0040(1), 860-036-0745, and 860-037-0555).
For telecommunications utilities, OPUC allows up to 4 percent of the cities´ total franchise fees, privilege taxes, and other taxes in the utilities´ operating expenses (OARs 860-022-0042(4) and 860-034-0330). Each excess exaction must be charged to customers within that city, and the total excess tax must be separately listed on customers´ bills.
For cooperatives, competitive providers, and competitive local exchange carriers, OPUC has no such rules and limitations because OPUC has no jurisdiction over the rates of competitive providers or the local rates of a telecommunications cooperative. As a result, competitive providers and cooperatives may separately list all city taxes on customers´ bills.
For information about specific cities, contact:
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County Fees and Assessments
Q10. What fees and assessments may a county charge a telecommunications provider or utility?
OPUC has no information about the individual counties´ assessments. Each county has its own ordinances and codes.
Q11. Whom should I contact for more information about county fees and assessments?
For more information, contact:
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Oregon Universal Service (OUS) Surcharge for Telecommunications
Q12. What is the Oregon Universal Service (OUS) fund?
See Oregon Revised Statute 759.425. The OUS fund supports carriers that provide basic telephone service in high-cost rural areas in Oregon. On a quarterly basis, each carrier (telecommunications provider) must pay the surcharge to the Fund Administrator based on all intrastate retail intrastate telecommunications services sold in Oregon. For more information and examples of revenues from telecommunications services that are subject to the fee, see OPUC´s web site under Telecommunications and Oregon Universal Service.
Q13. Are any telecommunications customers exempt from paying the OUS charges?
No. Tax-exempt customers (such as churches, cooperatives, and state agencies) are not exempt.
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Emergency 911 Communications Tax
Q14. What is the Oregon Emergency Communications (E 911) Tax?
See Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) Chapter 401and Section 10(1) of Chapter 533, Oregon Laws 1981 at the end of ORS Chapter 401. Each access line that is able to access Oregon´s E 911 reporting system must pay 75¢ per month. The statutes do not allow prorated charges for partial months of service. For cellular, wireless, or other radio common carriers, the tax applies to each device. Telecommunications carriers collect the tax from customers on a monthly basis, and the Oregon Department of Revenue collects the tax on a quarterly basis from the telecommunications carriers.
For more information about E 911, contact the Oregon Department of Revenue.
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Residential Service Protection Fund (RSPF) Surcharge
Q15. What is the Residential Service Protection Fund (RSPF)?
In 1987, the Oregon Legislature declared that it is the policy of this state to ensure that adequate, affordable residential telecommunication service is available to all citizens of this state. Refer to Oregon Laws 1987, Chapter 290, Sections 2 – 16 and Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 860, Division 033.
Based on that legislation, the OPUC implemented the following programs:
To support these programs, telecommunications providers must collect monthly the current RSPF surcharge at $0.12 from Oregon customers who have telecommunication services with access to the OTRS. For cellular, wireless, or other radio common carriers, the surcharge must be applied on a per instrument basis. The statutes do not allow pro-rated charges for partial months of service.
Download the RSPF surcharge remittance form and guidelines.
For more information about the RSPF surcharge and its programs, visit www.rspf.org or contact Jon Cray or Kathy Shepherd.
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Annual Gross Revenue Fee (OPUC Fee) for Telecommunications Providers and Utilities
Q16. Who is subject to the annual gross revenue (OPUC) fee?
All public utilities and telecommunications providers must pay an annual gross revenue fee (OPUC fee). The fee is assessed on companies´ revenues; it is not assessed on customers. The collections fund OPUC and are collected and audited by OPUC.
- For electric utilities, see Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 860-021-0033 and 860-037-0097.
- For gas and steam heat utilities, see OARs 860-021-0034 and 860-021-0037.
- For water utilities, see OARs 860-036-0095 and 860-036-0097.
- For wastewater utilities, see OARs 860-037-0095 and 860-037-0097.
- For large telecommunications utilities (serving more than 50,000 access lines), see OARs 860-021-0008(5), 860-021-0036, 860-021-0037, 860-032-0008, 860-032-0080, and 860-032-0090.
- For small telecommunications utilities (serving less than 50,001 access lines and subject to ORS 759.040), see OARs 860-032-0008, 860-032-0080, 860-032-0090, 860-034-0010(3)(a), 860-034-0095, and 860-034-0097.
- For telecommunications cooperatives, see OARs 860-032-0001(2), 860-032-0008, 860-032-0080, 860-032-0090, 860-032-0095, and 860-032-0097.
- For competitive telecommunications providers, see OARs 860-032-0001(2), 860-032-0008, 860-032-0080, 860-032-0090, 860-032-0095, and 860-032-0097.
- Copies of these rules are available from Oregon.gov.
Q17. When a telecommunications provider bills its customer for the OPUC fee in accordance with Oregon Administrative Rules 860-021-0036, 860-032-0095, or 860-034-0095, are any customers exempt from paying the amount billed?
No. Tax-exempt customers (such as churches, cooperatives, and state agencies) are not exempt from paying for the cost of service. The OPUC fee is a cost payable by the telecommunications provider, and Oregon Revised Statute 756.310 lets the telecommunications provider collect the expense from each customer as an itemized charge instead of bundling the cost in rates.
Q18. Who can provide more information about the annual PUC fee assessed upon telecommunications providers?
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