CTIA Launches Anti-Tax Website

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association has launched a new website, StopAddingToMyBill.com, to try to help citizen’s better understand –and protest– the many governmental levies placed on cellular service.” While we occasionally disagree with the CTIA, in this case we are in lockstep. There is no particular reason why cellular phone service should be taxed higher than, say, buying a magazine from a bookstore, yet the website documents at least five states where taxes figure as 20% or more of the phone bill. The problem is that governments (much like RIAA execs) see the mobile phone bill as a soft target, where steadily dropping prices can be offset invisibly with increasing taxes. A ridiculous example was November’s Prop 67 here in Cali: the pro side figured it made sense to fund hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors with a tax on mobile phones. They actually had the gall to argue that “Since lots of 911 calls come from cellular phones, the phones should pay for the ER.” Fortunately, 72% of CA voters killed Prop 67, revealing a rising level of intolerance with the taxes. Of course, this is one of the reasons our phone bills are so complicated, because the carriers want to call out the taxes and fees so their subscribers get mad at government, not telcos. We know that the carriers are prone to exaggerate these fees on the bill, but we’re still in favor of keeping the government in check.

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