Frontier Communications sued for taxing internet access

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that Frontier Communications illegally collected sales tax on Internet bills.

The suit also alleges that Frontier "improperly applied" a number of fees to its customers, including a "911 fee" and "universal service fees."

The lawsuit, filed by Nichols Kaster on behalf of three Minnesota customers and a New Yorker, claims that Frontier Communications violated the Internet Tax Freedom Act as well as the Federal Communications Act by including Internet charges on its sales tax charges.

The plaintiffs in the case are Clint Rasschaert, Ed Risch, Verna Schuna, of Minnesota, and Pamela Schiller, from New York.

The group also claim that Frontier Communications lied to its customers about its fees. The lawsuit claims that the company imposed a "junk fee" called the HIS surcharge on its bills. Frontier customers' bills state that "all surcharges on customers' bills are either governmentally required or specifically authorized by government agencies," which, the suit claims, is false.

Nichols Kaster wants the group certified as a class for a class-action lawsuit, which could open up the case to Frontier's other seven million customers. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages as well as attorneys' fees and costs.

"Customers should not have to check the sales tax calculations on their bills to make sure they are right, and they shouldn't have to be legal experts to figure out whether charges that are represented as being government charges are actually government charges," says Michelle Drake, the lawyer handling the case for Nichols Kaster, . "We shouldn't need to sue just to get big corporations to truthfully bill their customers."

A spokeswoman at Frontier Communications said she didn't know anything about the lawsuit and said she'd call City Pages back.

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