This from Jim, WB8AZP, via the ARROW mailing list:

Buried in the middle of the 1200-page Health Care Reform package is something that should be disturbing to all US amateur radio operators. Embedded in the funding guidelines section 415, paragraph 27, line 45, are details on one of the mechanisms that the government intends to employ to help pay for the staggering costs of the new plan.

To put it simply, the new health care guidelines support the notion of creative funding from untapped resources, and from other government agencies, like the FCC. This puts the burden on funding on other agencies, and therefore the health care reform pundits can claim that “they” didn’t introduce any new taxes to pay for everything.

Lurking in the depths of the new health carecare package is a time bomb waiting to affect all US Amateur Radio Operators; The new Talk And Pay (TAP) Tax.. What does the TAP Tax do? Well, just as it implies, it adds a tax on to each amateur license, based on usage of the bands.

The FCC knew it was going to be troublesome to enforce this kind of regulation, so they came up with a clever scheme – taxation by license class. All Technician, General, and Extra Class Licensees will be taxed at a different rate. Any holdover licenses from different classes will be taxed at the next higher rate, so novice license holders will be taxed as technicians, advanced holders as extra class licensees and so on. The logic is that higher class licenses can use more of the frequencies; therefore they pay a larger percentage. There are even paragraphs that define taxing stations that haven’t operated, (although you have to prove that by filing a waiver), stations where the license holder has become a silent key (a different waiver), and repeater or space stations (when the license is held by a non-profit group, you can apply for a waiver as well). They legislators have even thought of the mechanism to capture revenue from youngsters, in their special Tax On Eventual Earnings (TOE) tax. So, a youngster who is not working will pay into a TOE TAP TAX account, in the form of a debit owed to the government. Even retirees do not escape this tax, as there is a provision for the SNAP TAP TAX (Sure Not Accounting for Productivity).

There does seem to be a provision for testing down to a previous license class, so you can get a tax break by forfeiting your current license class, (after taking a new 50 question written exam, and paying a hefty 45 dollar examination fee). You’ll be then required to sign BCKTP in CW or “slash Back Tap” in voice.

This looks to be pretty well thought out. I stopped reading after seeing the FCC amateur radio entry. It appears that Cell phones and wireless data networks will be next. There are 20 other government agencies listed in the document. Where will this insanity end? All of this is scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2011, because there apparently wasn’t enough time to implement it before then.

If this doesn’t negatively impact the growth of amateur radio, I don’t know what will! I think it will also promote the notion of going really underground, and not using your callsign at all., actually a practice that I’ve already heard lots of people adopt, especially on VHF.

I called my congressman after reading all of this, and he said that there are already proposals being filed to allow credit for amateur radio operators involved in public service, and he called it the Support for Individuals Desiring to Engage in Services Training, Education, and Planning (SIDESTEP). That makes me feel a little better.

I think it just might be time to get rid of my gear, before all this TOE TAP, SNAP TAP, BACK TAP, and SIDESTEP stuff goes into affect. Once again, the government is here to help you.


  1. Dan KB6NU says:

    Happy April Fool’s Day everyone!

  2. The critical element of any good April Fool’s prank is to have the story be outrageous, but not quite outrageous enough to be unbelievable. Given the current political climate, I would say that you’ve done a fine job of that!


  3. Andy KD4UKW says:

    This is great! Thanks for posting.

  4. Bob k8zkj says:

    Very funny and very creative! Everyone needs a good laugh!

  5. OMG, am I glad I read all the way to the end; I can now relax and breath again :)

  6. I was getting ready to print posters and get out the walking shoes.
    Good joke….you spin a good story.

  7. I worked here for the FCC in v4 land, I was rolling my eyeballs when you hit the FCC stuff, then I said what’s today’s date! Shit you got me this time (a very good one)


  8. Fantastic! Sounded like the real thing there. I was ready to make a few phone calls.

  9. Pat N1PRS says:

    I love it!!!! Thank you for sharing this!!! :)

  10. Larry K5END says:

    Yeah. Almost as funny as the plague.

  11. Good April Fools Story, and yet again another reason why I hate the First of April.

  12. Steve St.Martin says:

    I for one think this is very in keeping with the way Obama would like to have things run . Very funny and not to fare from the truth. 73 all KG6VVO

  13. Jim KB3NAA says:

    Oh, I’m guessing I will hear this discussed somewhere on 80 m…very good I have been fool proof all day – till just this moment.

  14. Rachel Wilken says:

    Do you know how many hams I have told since my husband read this to me? Don’t like to look like a dumb blonde! K5RWW

  15. Sally KB3NOR says:

    Thanks. That was really well done. Had me going for quite a while there!


  16. Moe, NT7C says:

    One of the best laughs I’ve had since the Signetics data sheet for the 4096×1 Write only memory back in the 1970’s. Well done, OM.

  17. James P Merrill says:

    Every year Jim, WB8AZP, comes up with a very good
    April Fool prank. I believe it was last year that many
    LARK members believed what they read…… :o)
    73 Jim / W8JPM

  18. Jim – Exceptionally well written… and quite funny… Except, that I am afraid should Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al, get there hands on this….. you may have become a modern day prophet of doom….
    Hang on… let me brew some more TEA.


  19. I’m not laughing. I honest-to-God thought it was real. Why not? Don’t give these swine any ideas! Good prank though! 73 JX

  20. Rooster Bob says:

    TOE TAP, SNAP TAP, BACK TAP, and SIDESTEP – Kind of dancing around the issue, are we?

  21. Nick, WA5BDU says:

    My thought was yes, it’s nutty enough to be an obvious joke, but just the sort of thing right wingers would take as Gospel without a second thought.

  22. My God man! You’ve opened Pandoras Box…if Nancy P. and Shelia J. Lee see or hear about this it’ll be thru both houses and full blown law before April 15.

  23. Cliff VE6PLC says:

    We pay a tax on recording media (tapes, CD-R discs, DVD-R discs) because they might be used to copy copyrighted music and movie files. I have even heard talk of extending the tax to hard drives and memory cards. A tax on ham licenses doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch. I hope no one in government gets any ideas!

  24. Stan Reddick says:

    I do not like the new health care Jim and as I read this I got Mad.
    Great April Fools you Got Me Stan N9RFO

  25. We need to make sure that if the republicans are unsuccessful in repealing the reform bill, that hams are at least TAP’ed based on actual bandwidth usage. For example, CW contesters using cut numbers should be taxed way less than high fi AM’ers on 75M.

  26. thomas rist KB3UFB says:

    This was good I heard about it on 2m the other night while i was driving to ny

  27. No, do not think this is an April Fools joke…it is only a coincidence that this came out on April 1. This is real —- read the entire bill that was passed. There is very little time left to fix this!

    Bob K0NR

  28. David Brodbeck N8SRE says:

    I have this terrible suspicion that I’ll be seeing this in email forwards for the next year…same way the 2009 April Fool’s joke about Obama having gone to college under the name Barry Soetoro keeps getting forwarded around by people who think it’s real. When it comes to politics people will take anything seriously if it confirms their personal biases.

  29. Yesterday, three days after April Fool’s Day, an outraged ham sent this to me. Seriously. Sigh. Whoever created this story should be ashamed of themselves. It’s taking away time from real hoaxes that we should be outraged about, like healthcare reform will euthanize our elderly or the census is being used in preparation for internment camps.

    Folks, let’s get serious and discuss, forward, and get angry about the hoaxes that are important.

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      So ham radio hoaxes aren’t as important as census hoaxes? I’m going to call President Obama and have him revoke your blogging license. I hear that the FCC’s new National Broadband Plan will give him the power to do that.

  30. Steve St.Martin says:

    Very good hoax this must have touched a nerve. The Kenwood 2000 group are all up in arms and pissed. Nice to see them all worked up. keep up the good work. 73 all KG6VVO

  31. Mike Zydiak W2MJZ says:

    April 16th, 2010…

    Of course, being a professional researcher and writer, (and as I was quite busy in the office today… so I only read the first two of the above paragraphs, I immediately pulled up a copy of H.R. 3590 from The Library of Congress, and attempted to search through the entire 2010 Healthcare document for a reference to the “funding guidelines” with any and all of the variations on the numbers which were offered by Jim WB8AZP.

    Quite frustrated that nothing was making any sense at all, I called up one of my friends around three P.M., who is a staffer of a local area Congressman, to give me a heads up on all of the different House and Senate bills which were voted upon, and any additional skullduggery which I might have missed in the reconciliation votes.

    (Note that my friend who is Ham Radio friendly asked if there was something that he should bring up with the staff on Monday, and fortunately I told him not to bother for the moment, but if I did find anything of serious interest that I would get back to him.)

    Really frustrated beyond belief at that point, I went back and read the WB8AZP document in its entirety.

    Cute really, really, really cute.

    As I only bill in full hour, or any parts there of, increments, do I send the bill for $125 directly to Jim WB8AZP, or do I send it to the the KB6NU website to be forwarded.

    Thank you for giving me a good laugh this Friday afternoon… fifteen days past April First.

    Mike Zydiak W2MJZ

  32. Dan KB6NU says:

    Send us a bill? We should send you a bill for the entertainment we provided!

  33. Curt/KF5KGN says:

    Having worked for the citizens of the Republic for a long time my concern is that our beloved leaders may see this and think it is a good idea…well those who can read, smile.

  34. OK, I just got up, and was having my morning coffee when I read this.
    You got me, until I figured it out.

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