Wash. State Operators Want In on Tax Breaks

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Cable operators in Washington state want in on a bill to give tax breaks to telecommunications providers that build advanced networks in rural areas.

House Bill 1239 was backed by the state's Independent Telephone Association and does not include cable systems. But Broadband Communications Association of Washington executive director Ron Main said industry officials have met with the bill's sponsors, who are amenable to including cable providers.

"If it's amended, we'll work with them to support it," he said.

Legislators are seeking advanced telecommunications networks that span the state. The bill defines "rural" as unincorporated, non-first-tier communities. It also excludes all of the territory along Interstate 95 through Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

The bill would forgive sales and use taxes on equipment or facilities purchased or used by telecom companies in the designated rural areas. Advanced services providers would also get a 50-percent credit against the personal property tax normally due on such equipment.

To spur deployment, the tax credits would sunset in 2007.