Boyden Gray & Associates filed a comment yesterday on behalf of Consumers’ Research opposing the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF).

The comment argues that the Universal Service Fund is an unconstitutional tax raised and spent by an unaccountable federal agency. What’s more, this unaccountable federal agency–the FCC– has delegated  all authority over this revenue-raising scheme to a private company registered in Delaware, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).  USAC decides how much money to collect from carriers to support the USF (amounting to nearly $10 billion annually), and the carriers pass this cost off to consumers.

The comment argues that is  unconstitutional, violates statutory authority, and is otherwise illegal for numerous reasons. The comment argues,  

The charges imposed for Universal Service are taxes because they, at least in part, provide benefits for the general public—indeed, the term “universal service” confirms the goal of providing benefits for as many people as possible from this pot of money. Even if Congress can delegate taxing power to an agency, Congress must impose meaningful limitations on the rates or amounts that could be raised by the Commission, which Congress failed to do here.

The full comment is available here.

Consumers’ Research is an independent educational  nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers and to promote the freedom to act on that knowledge and understanding.

Boyden Gray & Associates is a boutique litigation and public policy firm, continuing C. Boyden Gray’s decades of service as counselor to presidents, business leaders, legislators, and regulators on matters of constitutional law, regulatory policy, and international affairs.