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Even unused landlines are set be subject to the new 50p-a-month broadband tax announced in Alistair Darling's pre-Budget report last week.

A consultation released by the Treasury has proposed that all lines, regardless of whether they are in use or not, should face the levy.

The paper, entitled Implementing a Landline Duty, stated that "where more than one local loop is provided in order for an end user to receive two distinct services, the duty is payable on both lines".

VAT – set to return to 17.5 per cent on January 1st 2010 – will also be applied to the new tax, the Treasury indicated.

In better news for consumers, those who have both copper and fibre connections will be required to pay the tax only once, the report stated.

It noted that the same will apply where services are received from two separate providers.

The Conservative Party has regularly spoken out against the introduction of the broadband levy, claiming that it could persuade some low-income households to give up their connections.

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