9-1-1 Emergency Number Fee

B-215735: Jul 1, 1985

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Texas 911 Emergency Number Act authorizes establishment of communication districts to process calls to public safety agencies from residents of each district in large metropolitan areas for emergency aid, accessed by dialing 911. Each district is a governmental entity performing a municipal service, and is permitted by Texas law to assess service fees to recoup operating costs. The fee assessed by the districts amounts to a tax from which Federal entities are constitutionally immune. Although 911 service fees appear as a separately stated item on monthly telephone bills of district customers, the telephone company is the only collection agent for districts and is not itself the service provider. Legal incidence of the tax is a direct responsibility of the telephone service customers, including the General Services Administration (GSA). Direct taxes on the U.S. customers are unconstitutional; therefore the 911 fee must be withheld from payment.

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