Wireless Taxes

The average wireless consumer now pays almost 17% in combined state, local and federal wireless taxes and fees. That’s more than double the average sales tax rate of about 7% paid on other goods or services. In fact, wireless consumers in 46 states and the District of Columbia pay more in wireless taxes and fees than they do general sales tax. Do you know what you’re paying in taxes and fees on your wireless service? Look up your state’s rates here (you may be surprised!).

Wireless taxes continue to rise. Over the past decade, wireless taxation increased at a rate four times faster than the rate on other taxable goods and services. And, because wireless taxes are often regressive, they hit seniors, minority communities, working families and small businesses especially hard.

Help from Congress: The ‘Wireless Tax Fairness Act’

The good news is there’s help on the way. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) in the House of Representatives and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) reintroduced the ‘Wireless Tax Fairness Act’ (H.R. 2309 / S. 1235) which would put a freeze on any new discriminatory state or local wireless taxes and fees for five years.

This bipartisan bill unanimously passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, but the Senate failed to act on a similar version. Since then the average wireless tax rate has increased by almost one percent from 16.3% to 17.2%.

What the ‘Wireless Tax Fairness Act’ Does

If passed, the bill would prohibit local and state governments from tacking on any new taxes and fees on a specific communications service, such as wireless, for five years. They could still increase taxes and fees on communications across the board, but they couldn’t just single out any one set of consumers, such as wireless users like you. The five year freeze would provide wireless consumers with a much-needed break from even higher taxes and fees, and a window to develop a tax and fee structure that is fair and sensible.

Support for the Bill

  • The ‘Wireless Tax Fairness Act’ was introduced and championed in the House by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ). 220 co-sponsors have signed on to support this measure.
  • Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) are leading the renewed charge in the Senate where the bill previously stalled in 2012. The bill currently has 17 co-sponsors.
  • The majority of consumers we polled in our annual survey supports the five-year freeze and say they think wireless taxes should be equal to, or lower than, the sales tax rate.