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Phone USF tax

I recently got a "We're raising our rates" notice from my long distance 
provider. (Pioneer, $0.039/minute, no fee, e-mail me offlist for details).

This caught my eye:
> 2. The federal government has raised the 
>    Universal Service Funding tax to 9.1%.

What is this "Universal Service Funding" tax?
Or is this an FCC-mandated *tarriff*, that the phone company is passing
along as a separate line item, and pretending it is a "tax"?

Can I "opt out" of this "tax"?
Are certain categories of customers exempt from this "tax"?

Any URLs for more info?



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