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Bloggers go ballistic over non-existent wireless tax

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The UK is not in fact about to impose a tax on wireless networks, but that hasn't stopped bloggers jumping up and down about it.

Rumours that the UK was about to introduce a tax on wireless networking set the blogosphere afire towards the end of last week, with opponents pointing out that a tax of £100 per access point would drive many Wi-Fi providers out of business. Which is probably true, but not particularly helpful when the tax in question is a normal business rate that providers with their own sites have been paying for years.

"It is not correct to suggest a new tax is being introduced for wi-fi installations," the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) told us. "All business property is liable for rates, which are based on rental value. Wi-Fi installations are not treated any differently to any other business property."

Apparently the VOA currently has 31,000 masts on its books, which are valued so the tax man can claim his share and businesses operating in the UK pay appropriate business taxes.

Whether that is right is another matter, and may be more appropriate for debate: small companies providing wireless broadband to rural areas might feel entitled to a bit of tax relief, but the same would have to be made available to the larger operators who are unlikely to engender the same public sympathy.

Still, regardless of what happens in the future, right now there is no change in taxation of wireless masts, sites or technology, and none planned any time soon. So you can all calm down. ®

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