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12/9/2005
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Keystone State Consumers Fight Cell-Phone Taxes

Between federal, state, and local taxes, consumers in Pennsylvania pay an additional 20% on their cell phone bills, a situation a recent state House bill seeks to remedy and that others are watching.

Wireless companies and consumers across the country are closely watching a fight in Pennsylvania to eliminate a "double tax" on cellular services.

The state's House of Representatives recently passed legislation to repeal the five percent Gross Receipts Tax on wireless services, which lawmakers added to the state's six percent sales tax in 2003. Encouraged by their latest win in an ongoing battle, Pennsylvania consumers are pressing their senators and governor to follow suit.

The Keystone state has more than 7 million wireless users and ranks eighth in the nation for taxes on wireless services, according to MyWireless.org, a non-profit consumer advocacy group. Between federal, state, and local taxes, consumers there pay an additional 20 percent on their cell phone bills.

There are 190 million Americans who use wireless services, and the average wireless consumer pays 14 percent in taxes--even though taxes have dropped more than 80 percent in the last 10 years, according to MyWireless.org. New York is the most-taxed wireless state. New Yorkers pay 22.28 percent in combined taxes for wireless services. Florida is close behind, with total tariffs there reaching 22.17 percent.

MyWireless.org has helped defeat taxes and regulations in Missouri, California, Louisiana, and Texas. The group argues that the burden is too much for people such as seniors on fixed budgets, working families, and small businesses.

Efforts are underway to cut wireless taxes in several other states, including: Florida, Massachusetts, and Oregon.

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