Senator proposes tax on offshore call centres

4th Jun 2010

A US Senator plans to introduce a bill to tax offshore call centres in a protectionist bid to prevent "the outsourcing of American jobs".

The legislation put forward by Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York who is chairman of the Refugees and Border Security subcommittee, would impose a $0.25 excise tax on any customer service query that originated in the US, but was referred on to personnel working in a foreign location.

Companies would also need to inform customers about where the call was answered and where their personal information was being kept. They would also be required to publicly disclose how many customer calls they received and how many were sent overseas in their quarterly and annual reports as well as to certify that they were adhering to the new regulations or face penalties.

Schumer said in a statement: "If we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, then we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here. This bill will not only serve to maintain call centre jobs currently in the United States, but also provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced jobs to bring them back."

The move is not the first time that legislation attempting to curb the use of offshore call centres has been proposed in the country. In 2003, former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry introduced a bill to require call centre workers to disclose their location at the start of each call, but the proposal failed to become law.

Various states have also tried to address the issue. New Jersey, for example, approved legislation in 2005 to mandate that all state-related work had to be performed in the US following the offshoring of a number of government call centres.

President Obama likewise indicated during his election campaign that he would make local job creation a top priority and that he would end tax breaks and impose more taxes on firms that sent jobs overseas.

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