AT&T Settles Class-Action Over Mobile Web Taxes, Still Leaves Questions Unanswered

AT&T has been caught up in a class-action lawsuit stemming from taxes billed to subscribers using data plans.  The operator started sending out SMS messages to subscribers last week regarding a future refund, though details on the settlement and the lawsuit’s background is still largely unknown.

As part of the settlement, AT&T will refund taxes billed to users for mobile Internet services rendered between November 1, 2005 and September 7, 2010.  The lawsuit was filed against the operator from plaintiffs who claimed that AT&T had violated the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act.  This act prohibits state and local governments from levying taxes on Internet access between November 2003 and November 2014, though apparently AT&T kept collecting anyway.

A Website was created to give information about the lawsuit, though several important questions remain unanswered.  First of all, there’s still no mention of how much AT&T collected wrongly, or how many mobile data users it affects.  I for one have two AT&T accounts with data plans and have never received an SMS regarding the lawsuit like many others have.  Another big question is what AT&T will have to pay out for this mistake.  In the last quarter alone, AT&T reported revenues of $4.8 billion from wireless data services, and this settlement covers the last five years.

It’s also likely that AT&T isn’t the only operator who’s been collecting these taxes.  I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the near future.  Leave us a comment if you’ve been affected by this lawsuit.  Has anyone received an SMS regarding a refund?