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Berkeley councilman suggests email tax to fund Postal Service

March 09, 2013|By Shan Li
  • Postal workers in Chicago rally in support of keeping Saturday mail delivery, which the U.S. Postal Service plans to discontinue as a cost-cutting move.
Postal workers in Chicago rally in support of keeping Saturday mail delivery,… (John Gress / Getty Images )

A Berkeley city councilman is proposing an email tax to help the cash-poor United States Postal Service stay afloat.  

Gordon Wozniak suggested that using email, which is partially responsible for killing off demand for letter-carrying services, could save “vital functions” of the post office, the news site Berkleyside reported.

“There should be ... a very tiny tax on email,” he told the City Council. “There should be something like a bit tax. I mean, a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollar a year.”

The problem is, such a levy wouldn’t be legal unless the Internet Tax Freedom Act is allowed to expire in 2014.

Many people have taken to Twitter to scoff at the idea, Wozniak's proposal isn’t the first time the idea of an email tax has been kicked around. The United Nations more than a decade ago took a look at how such a tax could raise billions to fund a "global communications revolution." Others have suggested that charging money could tamp down on rampant spam.

Wozniak’s proposal is one of many ideas for how to save the faltering postal service, which announced last month that it plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays later this year. And about 200 post offices around the country may be auctioned off in the coming years to raise money. There has even been talk of a clothing line.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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