The Latest Sneaky Fee: Wireless Taxes

The Latest Sneaky Fee: Wireless Taxes

If you have a cell phone, you've signed on the dotted line.

But what, exactly, did you sign up for?

It's tricky enough to interpret the conditions, fees, setup and insurance costs (Warning: Ask if your insurance covers water damage!) without worrying about hidden taxes. But apparently, that's exactly what should worry us.

CNN Money reports that according to the Tax Foundation, opaque taxes tacked onto cell phone bills cost us an average of 17.2% more than we would be spending without them. These taxes come from the local, state and federal governments as well as 911 systems and school districts.

RELATED: Is Your Kid Mature Enough for a Cell Phone?

The taxes do vary by state: Nebraska has the highest wireless tax rate and Oregon the lowest. But some charges are the same for everyone, like the 5.82% tax every American pays to the company that originally maintained the expensive infrastructure for rural land lines, back in the days before land lines were headed to obsolescence.

There aren't really any ways out of paying these taxes—which, if you look, you'll find listed at the end of your phone bill—but there are two bills gaining steam around Congress aimed at keeping the taxes from rising. So while we wait to see if those bills become law, we'll work on figuring out how to keep our wireless costs down in the first place.


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