2013 National Tax Survey

Methodology

McLaughlin & Associates partnered with Penn Schoen Berland to develop and conduct a bipartisan national survey of 1,000 adult wireless phone users, who are likely voters. The survey was conducted between December 2-6, 2013. All interviews were conducted online. The survey invitations were distributed randomly within predetermined geographic units. These units were structured to statistically correlate with actual voter turnout for a general election. The accuracy of the sample of 1,000 adult wireless phone users, who are likely voters, is within +/- 3.1% at a 95% confidence interval. The survey results in this summary have been rounded and the wording for each question is verbatim from the questionnaire.

Summary

Wireless phone users remain highly satisfied customers and consider their wireless service as an essential part of their daily lives. It’s clear that wireless phone consumers are against increasing or adding new wireless taxes and fees. The majority supports Congress passing a 5-year freeze on all new wireless taxes and fees, supports continuing the moratorium on Internet access taxes and prefers creating federal guidelines that establish one fair and consistent set of taxes to apply to purchases of online digital downloads.

Survey Structure

The survey is divided into 5 sections. Jump to a section or explore the whole survey.

Additional Consumer Surveys


Consumer Satisfaction & Lifestyle

Overall, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your cell phone service?

More than 9 in 10 (94%) wireless phone consumers remain satisfied with their wireless phone service. Half (50%) of wireless consumers are “very” satisfied. This overwhelming level of satisfaction cut across all demographic groups. Only 6% are dissatisfied with their wireless phone service.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispanicMenWomen
Satisfied949493979193969492969394
Dissatisfied667397468476

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Would you consider giving up your home landline phone and only use a cell phone?

The majority already has (25%) or would consider (34%) giving up their home landline phone and only use a wireless phone. Two in five (41%) wouldn’t consider “cutting the cord.” Consumers 55 years old or younger are more likely to “cut the cord” than older consumers. Seven in ten (70%) senior citizens wouldn’t give up their home landline phone.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispanicMenWomen
Yes313451483123192940574029
No414120223954704244284041
Already Have292529303024112915142030

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Do you consider your wireless service as an essential service in your everyday life?

Wireless service is clearly an important part of people’s lifestyles. Four in five (81%) wireless phone users consider their wireless service as an essential service in their everyday life.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispanicMenWomen
Yes8197918372637987918082
No1939172837211392018

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Do you use a wireless device, like a wireless phone or tablet, for things related to work, school or personal management?(Work, School, Personal Management don’t equal 100% because respondents were allowed to choose multiple answers)

Roughly two-thirds (65%) of wireless phone consumers use a wireless device for things related to work, school or personal management. The majority (57%) uses a wireless device for personal management followed by work (30%) and school (12%). Consumers 40 year olds and younger and Hispanics are the most active on their wireless devices.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispanicMenWomen
YES6591836744386365766763
 Work304656291742824493923
 School1237205301014231312
 Personal5779705938385760565558
NO359173356623735243337

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Does the wireless device make you more productive with things related to work, school or personal management? (Work, School, Personal Management don’t equal 100% because respondents were allowed to choose multiple answers)

Nine in ten (93%) consumers who use a wireless device for work, school or personal management, say it makes them more productive. Most say wireless devices make them more productive in managing their personal affairs.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispanicMenWomen
YES9397969388819389969294
 Work4446654033114235615533
 School1738207401321291717
 Personal8284798381818481707886
NO73471219711486

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Taxes & Fees

From what you know, about what percentage of your monthly cell phone bill is taxes and fees?

There continues to be a significant lack of awareness among wireless consumers about how much they actually pay in taxes and fees on their monthly wireless phone bills. More than one-quarter (29%) has no idea of what they pay in taxes and fees. Among those who gave an estimate, most think they pay less than 15%. The average answer is 9.8%, which is significantly lower than the national average of 17.2%.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenUnder $60KOver $60K
Less than 5%141314141114121120141115178
5%-9%2626322630182126252125262626
10%-14%2320212318201721151821191626
15%-19%886119877715116611
20% or More554654444115445
Don’t Know2529232028363932312227313224
MEAN %9.9%9.8%9.2%10%9.9%9.9%9.8%9.7%8.9%11.7%10.5%9.2%8.9%11%

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Would you support or oppose Congress passing a 5-year moratorium on states or localities imposing any new or discriminatory tax specifically on wireless services?

By nearly a 3 to 1 ratio (61% to 21%), the majority supports Congress passing a 5-year moratorium on states or localities imposing any new or discriminatory tax specifically on wireless services. Over one-third (37%) would strongly support it. In last year’s online survey, 81% supported “Congress passing a 5-year freeze or moratorium on all new wireless taxes and fees, which would prohibit states and municipalities from raising taxes and fees on wireless services.” The majority (59%) “strongly” supported it and only 7% opposed the proposal.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Support6156646164626354687153645764
Oppose2129162021212028192022212419
Don’t Know171619191517171913925161917

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Do you believe that temporarily freezing state and local wireless tax rates will have a negative impact on revenue?

By a 2 to 1 ratio (49% to 22%), half (49%) doesn’t believe temporarily freezing state and local wireless tax rates will have a negative impact on revenue. More than one-quarter (28%) doesn’t know if it would negatively impact revenues.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Yes162238371216141918402520212421
No584937405856525248445445524650
Don’t Know262824243128343034172135272928

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Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress or U.S. Senate who voted against temporarily freezing wireless tax rates?

By about a 2 to 1 ratio (50% to 26%), half would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress or U.S. Senate who voted against temporarily freezing wireless tax rates. The less likely percentage increases among consumers older than 40 years old, White consumers and Republicans.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
More Likely222640362117182228473022262922
Less Likely435038376057565448365149554849
No Difference352422272026272424171928192430

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Do you think the tax rate on your monthly cell phone service should be lower, the same or higher than the taxes you pay on general goods and services, which is approximately 7%?

The majority (53%) of wireless phone users continue to think the tax rate on their monthly wireless phone bill should be lower than the taxes they pay on general goods and services, which is approximately 7%. Combined, 97% believes the tax rate should be the same (44%) or less (53%) than the taxes they pay on general goods and services, which is relatively consistent across all of the demographics.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Lower545348455264555261515155585052
Same444449514532424535444642394646
Higher233435334644343

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Do you believe a combined state and local tax rate above 17% for wireless services is not enough, about right or too much?

Four in five (81%) wireless consumers still think a combined state and local tax rate above 17% for wireless services is too much. This overwhelming sentiment cuts across all demographic and political lines.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Not Enough234701213932431
About Right14163023121091315342013121917
Too Much848166708890898682587785847882

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Does the cost of your wireless service impact your wireless usage?

One-third (34%) says the cost of their wireless service does impact their wireless usage. The percentage grows among consumers 40 years old and younger and Hispanics.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenUnder $60KOver $60K
Yes3634444135282432305034353435
No6466565965727668705066656665

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If $5.00 in taxes and fees were added to your wireless bill each month, would you reduce your wireless service plan to help make up for the addedWhether it’s on a computer costs?

If $5.00 in taxes and fees were added to their wireless bill each month, one-quarter (24%) would definitely reduce their wireless service plan to help make up for the added costs. Combined, two-thirds (67%) would either definitely (24%) reduce their plan or consider it (43%). One-third (33%) wouldn’t change their plan to make up for the added costs. African-Americans, Hispanics and consumers 40 years old and younger are most likely to reduce their plan.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenUnder $60KOver $60K
YES67757063696164767667677063
 Definitely24243117262421263725232523
 Consider  It43513946423743493942444540
NO33253137323936242433333037

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Under current law, there is a moratorium that prohibits states and municipalities from taxing your access to the internet— the monthly charge from your internet service provider. This law is set to expire in November 2014. If it expires, state and local governments would be allowed to impose taxes on your monthly internet bill. Would you support or oppose Congress continuing the moratorium, which prohibits states and municipalities from taxing your access to the Internet?

By greater than a 2 to 1 ratio (66% to 26%), two-thirds support Congress continuing the moratorium prohibiting states and municipalities from taxing access to the Internet. The majority consensus cuts across all political and demographic segments.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Support6662726566666763697360696564
Oppose2629192729252526272328252527
Don’t Know891086981145116109

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Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress or U.S. Senate who voted AGAINST continuing the freeze on the Internet access tax?

A slight majority (53%) would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress or U.S. Senate who voted against continuing the freeze on the Internet access tax. The less likely percentage increases among consumers older than 40 years old, White consumers and Republicans.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
More Likely2644352116192228503122253121
Less Likely5337436062575750355253574853
No Difference2119221922242123151725182026

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Digital Downloads

Whether it’s on a computer or a wireless device, do you consider Internet service as an essential service in your everyday life?

Nine in ten (94%) consumers consider Internet service as an essential service in their everyday life. This overwhelming sentiment is evident among all consumer demographics.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomen
Yes9499969591909495999395
No614591065175

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How often do you use your cell phone to access the Internet?

Roughly three-quarters (74%) have a wireless smartphone with Internet access. The majority (53%) regularly use their smartphone to access the Internet. Consumers 40 years old and younger and Hispanics are the biggest users of the Internet on their smartphone. Men use the Internet on their smartphone more than women. Consumers with a household income over $60K are more likely to have a smartphone and use it regularly to access the Internet.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenUnder $60KOver $60K
USE INTERNET74929076614871768378706981
 Regularly53887952261848477356504860
 Not Regularly2141125353023291022212121
NO INTERNET2681024395229241723303119

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How often would you say you purchase online digital downloads such as ringtones, music, videos, games, books, software or apps to your cell phone or other wireless device?

Two-thirds (66%) of wireless phone consumers purchase online digital downloads to their wireless phone or other wireless device. The younger they are, the more likely they are to purchase digital downloads and at a greater frequency. Hispanic (81%) consumers are more active in downloading digital goods than African-Americans (68%) and White consumers (63%).

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomen
DOWNLOAD616693856648416368816963
 Everyday4919185316920107
 1-2 a Week9112223102110724158
 1-2 a Month14183323191141621231719
 Rarely352819223232363131142829
NEVER39348153552603732193137

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Do you think it’s fair or unfair for consumers who buy digital goods or services to have to pay taxes from several different government jurisdictions for the same purchase?

By nearly a 6 to 1 ratio (75% to 13%), three-quarters thinks it’s unfair for consumers who buy digital goods and services to have to pay taxes from several different government jurisdictions for the same purchase. This overwhelming consensus cuts across all consumer and political demographics.

13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Fair13242476510826169121412
Unfair7565688478777783647476797176
Don’t Know12119915181291091591512

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Which statement do you agree with more on the issue of taxing the purchases of online digital downloads?

  1. Federal guidelines should establish one fair and consistent set of taxes to apply to purchases of online digital downloads.
  2. Each state should have the right to decide how its state taxes the purchases of online digital downloads, even if it means the consumer could be subject to taxes from multiple jurisdictions for the same purchase.

By greater than a 2 to 1 ratio (59% to 23%), the majority prefers digital downloads being subject to one fair and consistent set of taxes established by federal guidelines. A little less than one-quarter (23%) thinks each state should have the right to decide how its state taxes the purchases of online digital downloads, even if it means the consumer could be subject to taxes from multiple jurisdictions for the same purchase. There remains a significant portion of consumers (18% “don’t know”) who need to be educated in order to make an informed decision.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
Federal615956556461555960606058595958
State202333351815192420282522252322
Don’t Know201811111823271820131520161820

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Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress or U.S. Senate who voted against creating one consistent national tax framework for digital transactions?

A plurality (41%) would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress or U.S. Senate who voted against creating one consistent national tax framework for digital transactions; however, this message by itself still doesn’t appear to be a top reason to vote against a candidate.

12-Dec13-Dec18-2930-4041-5556-65Over 65WhiteAfr-AmHispMenWomenRepDemInd
More Likely263239412923302830493826343328
Less Likely404140344249394444294141414240
No Difference352721262928312826222133262532

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