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Increasing your brain-fitness score doesn’t do much beyond improving your game-playing ability. You might face more than the grief of the loss of a loved one: grave desecration and double-sold plots. In July 2010, the city council of Lincoln, Neb., decided that the solution to its budget crunch lay in the cellphone bills of its residents.
Governments raise $18 billion per year through taxes and fees that are collected on cellphone bills, according to estimates by CTIA-The Wireless Association, which is the trade group for wireless-telecommunications companies. Cellphone tax rates are out of control, but the lack of transparency over what exactly the government does with this tax revenue adds insult to injury.
Consumers may soon get a guarantee that no new local and state taxes will pop up on their cell phone bills over the next few years.
Currently, cell phone consumers spend on average more than 15 percent in taxes on their wireless service. In a letter written early this year supporting the bill, the National Taxpayers Union, which advocates for American taxpayers, claimed that between 2003 and 2007, taxes on cell phone service increased four times faster than those imposed on other general goods and services. Instead, the bill is designed to curtail further increases in wireless taxes and fees in an effort to encourage people to spend more money on wireless service.
The wireless industry’s trade organization said the bill could help spur investment and innovation in wireless broadband networks. The CTIA has long argued that local taxes are not helping the federal government reach its goals of offering affordable broadband to all throughout the country. While this may be true, the industry also tacks on its own fees, often disguised as taxes, increasing what consumers pay every month. Over in the Senate, lawmakers are set to pass a measure this week included in a small business lending bill that would eliminate a provision requiring employees to pay taxes on personal use of employer-provided cell phones and similar devices.

The Senate voted yesterday to end debate on the measure, clearing the way for it to be voted on as soon as tomorrow. World CupWP Cumulus Flash tag cloud by Roy Tanck and Luke Morton requires Flash Player 9 or better.
The Houston Chronicle is the premier local news provider for the country's 4th largest city. Currently the nation's sixth-largest newspaper, the Houston Chronicle is a multimedia company publishing print and online products in English and Spanish that reach millions of people each month.
The proposal, announced Tuesday by Scott, would reduce state tax dollars by a projected $470 million. Scott was flanked by telecommunications executives while announcing the proposal Tuesday morning at the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Senate Finance and Taxation Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, has pushed similar, though somewhat smaller, measures than what Scott offered.
Hukill, who met with Scott on Monday, said she expects the communications-services tax to be a significant part of any final tax package.
House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, and Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said Tuesday they had not yet reviewed Scott’s proposal.
Scott made cutting taxes and fees a focus of his two successful election campaigns and his first term in office.
The Republican governor touted the fee cuts during last year’s campaign and pledged to make about $1 billion in tax cuts during the next two years. At campaign stops, Scott maintained support for a number of sales-tax shopping holidays, along with touting plans to cut the communications-services tax, eliminate a manufacturing sales tax, phase out the corporate-income tax and a sales tax on commercial leases and enact a constitutional amendment that would prevent residential property taxes from being increased when home values don’t go up. The government can budget, just like everyone else, and make ends meet if they do it with careful planning, unlike our government in Washington which just adds taxes and spends more endlessly.
How will he make good on all of the campaign promises he made that all cost our taxpayer dollars? I sure wish my “communication” costs could be cut but I have to ask At what cost to me?
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So, the council passed an ordinance that applied a 6 percent tax to all telecommunications products and services, including monthly wireless-telecommunications bills, data plans and even prepaid cellphones.
Nationwide, cellphone users on average pay combined federal, state and local taxes of 16.3 percent, according to a February 2011 study by economist Scott Mackey. Mackey pegs the increase over the past few years at three times the rate that sales taxes have increased. But Mackey points out that another major factor in the increase since 2007 is an increase of nearly 1 percentage point in the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) surcharge.
Taxes and fees are buried on cellphone bills, and consumers can have difficulty in distinguishing what the taxes are for and whether they are spent correctly.

This is compared with about 7 percent in taxes on other taxable goods, according to Lofgren.
It also wouldn’t ban new federal taxes, nor would it apply to fees that subsidize emergency 911 services and contributions to the Universal Service Fund, which helps fund rural phone service and phone service for low-income residents.
And they’re pushing for it to be passed by the entire House before Congress goes on recess for the midterm elections. The legislation includes an item introduced by Senate Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) that repeals a provision in the tax code requiring personal use of employer-provided cell phones and similar devices to be taxed like other corporate benefits such as the use of a company car. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to cut taxes on cell-phone bills and cable and satellite television to meet the first half of his re-election campaign’s $1 billion tax-cut pledge.
The governor’s office said it would save about $43 a year for a family that spends $100 a month on cell-phone and cable services, though spending on such services varies widely by household.
The tax has generated about $1.4 billion in annual collections in recent years, according to the Florida Tax Handbook. A final tax-cut package will be negotiated this spring as lawmakers finalize a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Scott and lawmakers last year made about $500 million in cuts, with much of that going to reducing vehicle-registration fees. As a result, it never has to have its oil changed as long as consumers add oil as necessary. The ZTRs are Toro’s first that use a steering wheel rather than handlebars to turn on a dime.
The truth is that cellphone-tax levies have become just another chance for governments to increase revenue. When the tax increase was added to the sales taxes and other fees and assessments that cellphone companies collect for federal, state and local governments, the result was that the tax burden for cellphone users in Lincoln amounted to a staggering 23.56 percent, which is the second-highest amount in the country.
Although other cellphone taxes take a bigger bite, the USF surcharge’s rate of increase is higher than that of other taxes.
For instance, in Chicago, we’re aware of a family that pays $25 per month in taxes, fees and surcharges on its three-cellphone plan. In fact, the tax rates were higher in 2005, before the federal government ended a decades-old excise tax that it had slapped on cellular-service bills.
The USF surcharge also applies to bills in all cities and states, even in those that haven’t raised taxes.
The bipartisan bill, which now has 194 co-sponsor, would ban new state or local taxes on mobile phones for the next five years. Tax rates started to rise again soon after, however, as states and local taxing authorities, as well as the federal government, began to apply new taxes. CTIA pays Mackey to produce his analyses, so his research isn’t entirely independent. But no one disputes that cellphone taxes exist, that they’re higher than are taxes on other products and services and that cellphone carriers simply pass them on to consumers. Despite the continued growth in cellphone use, some believe that taxes eventually might rise high enough to discourage wireless calling.

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