En Garde, Transatlantic Callers

A French tax on "callback" services draws howls of outrage

Stephen Berkowitz won't be calling his parents in New York as often. The Paris resident had been using a U.S.-based callback service instead of France Telecom long distance. Berkowitz would dial his folks, hang up after one ring, and the service would call back with a U.S. dial tone and charge U.S. rates, about half of France's. Beginning this month, however, the French government plans to impose a 20.6% value-added tax on such services. Although a five-minute transatlantic callback call now will cost Berkowitz $2.43, vs. $4.20 using France Telecom, he is angry. "Europe's consumers are being abused," he says.

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