Understanding Your Phone Bill

A typical telephone bill can have more than a dozen different line item charges for fees, taxes and funds.
Many customers find it difficult to understand where these costs come from and what they pay for. Here we describe the line items from a traditional telephone bill. Charges for cable or wireless telephone providers may vary slightly from the list below. This is a complete list of the additional charges, taxes and fees allowed on your telephone bill. If you see a new fee that you do not recognize, please contact the telephone company and our office to verify that it is a legitimate charge.

Federal

Federal Access Recovery Charge – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates this charge, but the money collected goes to the local telephone company to cover costs of maintaining the telephone line between the network and your home.This does not apply to Lifeline phone lines.
Federal Excise Tax – This is a 3% tax assessed by the IRS on local-only telephone calls.
Federal Subscriber Line Charge (SLC) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates this charge, but the money collected goes to the local telephone company to cover costs of maintaining the telephone line between the network and your home. This charge cannot exceed $6.50.
Federal Universal Service Fund – This fund is administered by the FCC and supports telephone and broadband networks in rural and high cost areas. It also ensures that schools, libraries and rural hospitals have reliable broadband. The charge is a percentage of all long distance charges on your monthly bill and the FCC can change the percentage quarterly.

State

ConnectME Fund - The Maine Legislature approved this fund to support broadband projects in unserved and underserved areas in Maine. The assessment is 0.25% of the monthly in-state charges.
Maine School and Library Fund (MTEAF) – This fund is used to provide schools and libraries with access to telephone service, internet access and technology. This amount is set each year by the Maine PUC and cannot exceed a charge of more than 0.7% on instate charges.
Maine Universal Service Fund – The Maine Legislature established this fund to ensure telephone service is available in rural and high cost areas. It also supports the telecommunications relay service for those with hearing impairment. The current amount charged is 2.1% of all in-state charges and can be adjusted quarterly.
Service Provider Tax – This is the Maine sales tax for telecom services. In January 2016, the rate increased to 6% of instate charges.
State E-9-1-1 Surcharge – This fund supports the upgrade and maintenance of the statewide Enhanced 9-1-1 system. The amount charged is set by the State Legislature at $0.45 per line, per month.

Other

Long Distance Access Fee – FairPoint assesses this $2.74 surcharge to defray the cost of access charges and fees that other phone companies assess on calls outside of FairPoint’s service area.

Updated - December 9, 2016