FCC Not Collecting Fines, Leaving Millions Off the Table for Taxpayers
December 20, 2015
Over the past two years the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has levied roughly $100 million in fines against nearly a dozen firms for defrauding a phone subsidy program, $35 million against a Chinese company for selling illegal wireless jamming equipment, and $100 million against AT&T this June for throttling customers on unlimited data plans. All money that would be useful to help shore up the nation’s finances, instead the FCC hasn’t collected a penny in the name of the taxpayers it represents.
Typically, after the agency proposes a fine, companies have around 30 days to either pay or challenge it. The fine isn't officially due until the FCC completes its investigation — a process that can take years. Even after that review is complete, the FCC has to rely on the Justice Department to collect the money if a company doesn't agree to pay.
Given the record number of fines imposed by agencies like the FCC, CFPB, DOJ and others, there is a tremendous opportunity to use these dollars for good, regardless of how the public feels about them as a means for punishment. Currently, the U.S. federal debt is approaching $19 trillion and the government has run a budget deficit in the hundreds of billions, and often trillions for years. These dollars should be going to lessen the strain on the budget, saving taxpayers millions more in interest payments on the debt in the coming years.