With the way governments in the United States treat telecommunications providers, you would think that the providers’ services came with a surgeon general warning. Generally speaking, governments impose greater taxes on activities they want to discourage, such as smoking, or on things that their citizens are less likely to consume, such as rental cars. But telecom falls into neither category. So why is telecom taxed so heavily? And why are there so many different taxes and fees that some consultants and lawyers have built careers out of helping telecom companies decipher how much to pay and which forms to file?