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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ohio Consumer Counsel: $5 Phone Bill Fee Suspended

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- A $5 fee AT&T started charging Ohioans last week for printed copies of past long-distance telephone bills has been suspended by state utility regulators after a challenge by the Office of Consumers' Counsel.

Earlier this week, the utility customers' advocate asked that the fee be put on ice because it was introduced when Ohioans were gathering old bills to learn how much they could collect in a one-time take break from the IRS.

''The suspension of this charge will at least temporarily remove an obstacle for those customers who want to receive printed copies of their past bills in order to calculate the one-time federal refunds. Going forward, if any fees are imposed for copies of past long-distance bills, the charges should be justified by the company," said Janine Migden-Ostrander, the consumers' counsel.

The IRS is offering standard refunds ranging from $30 to $60 this year. However, a taxpayers might be eligible for more if they calculate how much was paid for federal long-distance excise taxes. Courts ruled that the taxes were collected illegally.

Migden-Ostrander's office released these DETAILS about the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's decision to halt the AT&T fee.

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