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Cellphones Government The Almighty Buck United States

Taxes On Cell Phones Hit All-Time High 171

Posted by timothy
from the what-the-tax-market-will-bear dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "As a breakdown of the top ten states with the highest and lowest taxes shows, the wireless consumers in Nebraska, Washington, and New York pay more than 20 percent of their wireless bills in taxes and fees, mostly due to the proliferation of archaic or duplicated surcharges. Experts from KSE Partners spent five years monitoring the federal, state, and local taxes imposed on wireless consumers. According to their analysis, wireless taxes grew three times faster than the retail sales rate between 2007 and 2010. The reason behind this is that legislators and Congressmen are targeting the wireless industry for tax money to relieve the burden from more recession-starved industries. In fact, a few states even tax wireless consumers for non wireless-related projects; for instance, Utah funds its poison-control centers with a poison-control surcharge found on wireless bills, and in 2009 Wisconsin imposed a police and fire protection fee to subsidize local departments."
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Taxes On Cell Phones Hit All-Time High

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:39PM (#35216550)

    So wait, emergency services that need to spend extra money for equipment and procedures to locate mobile callers (instead of much simpler land-line callers) are completely unrelated to cell phones?

    • I agree, they are not "unrelated."

      But those services can be used by more than just people who are using phones. In fact, the person using the phone may even be calling for someone else. It makes no sense to put a tax on phone service, wired or wireless, for the purpose of funding a service that serves more than those who have phones.

      I would think a service that basically is supposed to serve everyone ought to be a tax levied on everyone...

      But I suppose that makes too much sense :)

    • by Firehed (942385)

      The 911 dispatchers require additional equipment, not the police and fire departments mentioned in the summary. They just go wherever the dispatcher says to go.

    • I can see that, but that doesn't explain charging cell phone users for the poison control centers.
      • I can see that, but that doesn't explain charging cell phone users for the poison control centers.

        Haven't you heard? Cellphones are poisoning our minds ... and our society.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:34PM (#35216976) Homepage Journal

        I can see that, but that doesn't explain charging cell phone users for the poison control centers.

        Why should taxes only apply to the item/product/service being taxed? Why shouldn't a tax on gasoline go to research into the electric grid, for example? Why shouldn't a tax on luxury yachts go toward education?

        I understand that there's a certain clarity when a tax on cigarettes goes toward providing research into lung cancer, but revenue is revenue. We've got municipalities and counties and states that are experiencing severe revenue shortfalls because of the economy. That money has to come from somewhere.

        I'm not saying I like the wireless taxes being piled on because it's easier than closing tax loopholes for investment bankers, but the notion that all tax money has to go directly to an expenditure directly related to the tax itself seems simplistic.

        Remember, the reason our tax code is tens of thousands of pages is not because it contains so many different taxes, but because it contains so many tax loopholes for special interest groups. Years ago I used to work for CCH, the company that publishes the tax code (like Westlaw, except just for tax law) and worked on tax preparation and compliance software (I wrote the manuals - I am not a programmer). Like most people, I thought all those huge books were full of ways for the government to collect money. Instead, I learned, they're full of ways that certain people can avoid having to pay taxes. It follows that the reason we can never get tax simplification laws passed is because rich and powerful fuckers don't want to have to pay their way.

        As we learned in the 90's, the best way to get out of deficit spending and huge public debt is to have a good economy and lots of people working and making money. Cut the deficit from the supply side by increasing revenue. Then, when times are good, that's the time to look for ways to cut costs and make things more efficient (and more fair!). Cutting public spending when people are already suffering is just going to make it all worse. Look at how all the budget cutting is failing in Europe. When you've got a bunch of people who have been out of work and probably will never have another job because nobody is going to hire someone who's 60 years old and unemployed, the last thing you want to do is raise the retirement age so that now you not only have an unemployed old person, but you've got an unemployed old person who's going to have to eat cat food for an extra five years before they can collect Social Security. Since corporations that are showing record profits seem determined to continue to lay off workers, that's not really a good time for the social safety net to be cut back.

        Maybe we can ask all those patriotic Americans at the upper end of the economic spectrum who have done so well over the past couple of decades to help out. Society has done a lot for them, maybe it's time to ask them to do a little bit for society besides expect a 25% annual return on their capital.

        • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @11:14PM (#35217524)

          Maybe we can ask all those patriotic Americans at the upper end of the economic spectrum who have done so well over the past couple of decades to help out. Society has done a lot for them, maybe it's time to ask them to do a little bit for society besides expect a 25% annual return on their capital.

          You forgot to add, "I want a pink pony too" at the end.

          Not only do those "powerful" people not pay their way, they are actively "fucking" us.

          I seem to remember the idea of the bailouts was that we, The People, help out the banks and Wall Street from going under and they would work with us to keep us in our homes.

          Did not work out. The banks actively fought and dragged their feet. Home loan modifications were not in their best interests. There are some very rich people right now that used government money to purchase properties with bad loans (fucking over the people in it) so they could literally double their money by selling it under market value (which was getting lower).

          The banks, Wall Street, and "powerful fuckers" laughed their asses off when we collectively asked them to keep their end of the bargain. Some really dirty dirty mother fuckers. They would not pay the property taxes and stiff the home owners associations, but rarely if ever, met the same penalties as the consumer for doing so.

          Where was government in all this? Doing the same thing they did with the tax code. Looking the other way and counting their special interest donations greedily.

          Such a big song and dance by GW Bush and Obama on how they were going to make things better and the only thing they did was give a TRILLION dollars to a bunch of clowns that not only did not change their behavior, but actively made it worse for us.

          Why is that a regular person can show up to court with proof that multiple banks bought the same mortgage security instrument and demand that one entity stand up and provide the note, the court shoots them down and proceeds with the foreclosure? Why is that the courts are powerless to allow an investigation into this kind of fraud, but must allow the foreclosure and tell the poor regular person that they must leave the house and then fight their battle in court again? The law. The law is the reason why. In most states the foreclosure is allowed to happen regardless of the circumstances. You can sue afterwards..... but that puts the consumer at a huge disadvantage and already causes them tremendous damages they will probably never recover from. At least from that mortgage company.

          The whole game is rigged for the "powerful fuckers". If they have not grown a heart and a conscience by now, I doubt we can hope they will anytime soon.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            The whole game is rigged for the "powerful fuckers". If they have not grown a heart and a conscience by now

            Oh, I'm not suggesting expecting them to do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts, but out of fear of the guillotine.

            That's why I have hopes that what happened in Egypt can happen here.

        • Our tax code is complicated for several reasons. 1.) Yes, corruption and special interests, but also 2.) to social engineer society to vote "my way" in whatever direction is currently lead by the party in control. The most recent example is the IRS giving tax breaks to mothers who breast feed. Why? It's like they tax the hell out of us and then where supposed to act all "ohhh, thank you master for giving us a nice break". Ya well, eff that! Especially since none of that money being collected goes to where i

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            You're right of course. Tax breaks for breast feeders I can almost understand. The deduction for mortgage interest is one that bothers me, though. Social engineering, pure and simple, to keep property values artificially high. It's been good for me personally, because I've been the beneficiary, but I think it's bad for society as a whole because now you need to have two household incomes to buy a first house and even then you've got to take unreasonably long mortgages. That is, if you can find a loan.

            • Property values in most places in the US are still on an artificial bubble, IMO, and one of the reason debt is so high is because housing costs so much.

              Absolutely! I'm in my mid 30s now, and even as a teenager then I never quite understood the concept of investing in a home. It was an American culture (started in the 50s?) that we can always flip a house into a better home and find a newer one in its place. Perhaps this culture was restricted to the urbanites, but even I knew then it wasn't sustainable with

              • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                Absolutely! I'm in my mid 30s now, and even as a teenager then I never quite understood the concept of investing in a home.

                Honestly, I believe a home is a great investment, but not because it's going to make you money, which has been the belief over the previous decades. It's not more honorable than renting, though, which is the intended subtext of the mortgage deduction.

        • Cut the deficit from the supply side by increasing revenue. Then, when times are good, that's the time to look for ways to cut costs and make things more efficient (and more fair!). Cutting public spending when people are already suffering is just going to make it all worse. Look at how all the budget cutting is failing in Europe.

          It's not as simple as that, unfortunately, it very much depends on what you cut. Taxation is essentially leakage from the economy, this means that it is money taken from what should be productive activities. The only expenditure which has an effect like you describe is that which is pumped straight back into circulation, like wages and social welfare. And even then, you need to balance out what you are spending from taxation against what the government actually needs to operate. There are plenty of useless

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @01:02AM (#35218042) Homepage Journal

            Taxation is essentially leakage from the economy

            Nonsense. Taxation is paying dues to have civilization.

            There is no such thing as an American that made it on their own "hard work and innovation". If someone claims that they did, I suggest dropping them in Somalia and seeing how well they do where there is no "big government".

            • by Onuma (947856)
              "Hard work and innovation" can be applied anywhere. We could argue that said American starting a small-but-growing uprising against Somali warlords, eventually shifting the whole economical and political arena of that area.

              Our system can allow the small guy to succeed where he may not have a hell of a chance otherwise - his worst case scenario is bankruptcy, which can be overcome (look at Donald Trump, for example - he's been bankrupt numerous times over the years). The risk in Somalia or comparable th
            • Nonsense. Taxation is paying dues to have civilization.
              Nonsense, Taxation is taking from someone to give to someone else. Sometimes it is helpful, other times, we do it just because see Federal Telephone Tax. If you are so keen on taxation and government control of the economy I recommend you hang out north of the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula.
              • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                Nonsense, Taxation is taking from someone to give to someone else.

                Society is "taking from someone and giving to someone else", too. Civilization is also "taking from someone and giving to someone else".

                It's what human beings do, and your Ayn Rand fantasies aside, it's how you survive. And yes, I mean "you" specifically.

                Go peddle your "free market" nonsense to someone more gullible.

            • Nonsense. Taxation is paying dues to have civilization.

              I'm speaking in the purely economic sense, as regards the injection-leakage model.

              • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                I'm speaking in the purely economic sense

                I'm sorry, Economics is approximately as scientific as astrology. I don't engage in discussions in an "economic sense" any more than I would engage in serious discussions in a "homeopathic sense".

                Junk science is junk science. Just because it's taught in every university doesn't make it less so. And Economics (capital "E") is junk science.

        • by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @11:51PM (#35217720) Homepage Journal
          Please, do tell me where I can get my 25% return.

          There is a real misconception on /. about money. You, and probably almost everyone else here, think that someone making $300k/year is rich. They're not; they're making a lot of money, but that's not the same thing as rich. Let's do the gedankenexperiment:
          Let us assume I make $300k. FICA, federal income tax, and state income tax reduce that to about $180k. For this experiment, we will make me the sole breadwinner in a family, and I will spend my income as though I were the median American household - which has an income just over $50k. Taxes take a much smaller chunk of that income, so let's call it $40k. I'm going to save $140k/year. Over a forty-year work life, I will be able to save $6.4M, barring growth in investments. Assuming that I invest in 5% interest bonds, I'll get to $18M - but with a constant, well-controlled 2% inflation rate over that time, that's only worth as much as $9M today.

          Nine million dollars is a lot of money, until you try to live off it as one of the idle rich. You rapidly find that you can only take about 1%-2% of the money per year to live on, if you want to stay ahead of inflation and the occasional market downturn. You can thus count on this: living off 1/8 of your pretax income for 40 years straight in a high-paying field will allow you to grant one of your grandchildren an idle life on the grand sum of about $120k/year. The truly rich are not living in the same world as the rest of us, even the upper middle class, and there aren't enough of them to make a difference. Any scheme designed to get money from "the rich" is going to fall disproportionately on the professional classes, because we're the ones who actually make the bulk of the money. And while we make quite a lot, most of us didn't come from privileged backgrounds, so I'd appreciate it if you'd tone down the class war rhetoric. Society didn't give me jack - my parents did, by living well below their means in order to send me to good (private) schools.
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            Please, do tell me where I can get my 25% return.

            If you bought into the stock market shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in as president, you'd have done much better than 25% annual ROI. I don't mean necessarily to pick individual stocks, but to buy the index.

            I have a little game I play with money: Since 1990 (when I first had money to play with) I would buy into various stocks and market instruments when Democrats became president and sell when Republicans became president (and buy currencies or hold as

          • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @02:58AM (#35218494)

            You think that somebody that makes $300k isn't rich? Less than 4% of all households make that much money according to the census. Income Distribution in the U.S. []

            I'm not really sure how you can say that somebody that's in the top 5% of all households isn't rich. 90% of all house holds are making a third of that. You have a really strange definition of rich.

            • Gosh, to read that, you'd almost think that I hadn't mentioned what the median household income is in the United States in my post.
              To me, "rich" is someone who doesn't have to work in order to maintain their lifestyle. Lots of people with six-figure incomes have net worths well below zero, and my whole post was an attempt to show people that it takes a long time and a lot of sacrifice to build wealth with savings.
              • by Onuma (947856)
                And some people with 5-digit incomes have 6+ digit net worth. Fiscal responsibility and preparation for the future is a huge part of it.
                I think most people are just too used to having their $200/mo DirecTV with a bajillion channels, internet speeds which most will never even dream of maxing out once (other than techy types, who is really going to utilize 20+ Mb/s, ever?) two late-model car notes, a too-large home which they can't really afford, and oodles of plastic credit which slowly tightens the noose
          • by stdarg (456557)

            Someone with $300k income is also so financially conservative that they only invest in low-risk bonds over a 40 year period? Doesn't add up. People with that kind of income and that kind of time span are going to make riskier investments and do better than 5% over the long term.

            You're also neglecting salary increases over the 40 year period. People making $300k early in their careers (30-40 years left) are going to grow substantially. Maybe you're a partner in a law firm, soon you'll be a senior partner and

    • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @10:37PM (#35217330)

      Emergency services requires no new equipment and procedures. AFAIK, from my experience dealing with it with VOIP, when you call 911 two things happen:

      1) Your carrier determines the nearest Public Safety Answering Point. They know which one to connect you to, because they know your location.
      2) Your carrier passes your location information to the Public Safety Answering Point when connecting you to it.

      In the past the ANI (Automatic Number Identification), not to be confused with Caller ID which can be modified, was used to transmit the information to the PSAP. The PSAP then did a reverse directory search to get a physical address.

      My understanding is that recently (the last 15-20 years) with everything gone digital the PSAPs are already getting the address information without the need for a reverse directory search. Otherwise, cellular callers would not have any location information available, which most of the time there has been some.

      It has ALWAYS been the responsibility of the carrier to connect you to the correct PSAP and transmit the correct location. This was difficult with wireless carriers since initially they could only guess based on the known physical location of the cell tower you were connected to. E911 laws (the FCC) in its current implementation phase require wireless carriers to transmit location information of a caller accurate to within 100 meters.

      There is E911 service for most VOIP now. It is required by the FCC for most large operations anyways that are marketing to consumers or meet some sort of criteria like Vonage and the ISPs. My VOIP service offers it as well. That works by the customer registering an address (one only) with each phone number that they own. You make your E911 call by setting the Caller ID on the line. With my systems I inspect the corporate extension making the call, look up the branch office, set the appropriate Caller ID, and then the VOIP provider passes it to the appropriate PSAP they determine from that address.

      So to my knowledge, there is NO DIFFERENCE between a cellular call, VOIP call, or land line call as far as a PSAP's equipment is concerned. It just presents the location information to the operator.

      No new equipment required. No new procedures required. If the FCC already has this handled with current legislation, and all of the carriers are already passing the location information to the PSAPs, why are we paying all of these taxes on wireless for emergency services?

      Not that I object to funding them. Just pointing out it does not need to be funded disproportionately from cell phones since they do not represent an added cost of providing the service.

      • Exaclyt like that.

        I am working as an extra project with the local 112 (european equivalent to 911) and here location of mobile calls do not require extra equipment, neither.

        When a cell call is issued to 112, the carrier sends a bunch of bytes to one of our servers, who just parses them. It is even a standard for all national (maybe european?) carriers, the typical message is about 128 bytes of ASN.1

        And, BTW, nothing like the typical spy movie where you see a dot blinking and moving. The localization info we

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:45PM (#35216608)

    I think there's a persistent perception in certain areas that only the well off and perhaps the young use cell phones. This makes them easy targets for tax rises - the rich don't care, and the young don't vote. From a revenue perspective it's a no brainer.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @10:18PM (#35217228)
      Or politicians are money grubbing thieves and hope people wont notice a 20% tax because it's stuffed int their phone bill. But your theory could be correct to.
      • I bet this is the reason, in the same way that sales taxes are easier to implement because people get used to it (as opposed to filling a form once a year and looking at the final result).

        The second thing I find most appaling of politics and democracy is the way elected politicians try to deceive people about what they really do. I mean, you get a tax for the politically correct services (emergency services), so if you protest you look like the grumpy odd man who is against PD and FD.

        Well, the question is:

  • by geekoid (135745) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:46PM (#35216618) Homepage Journal

    There are some things the government does that you can't qactually tax.

    Prisons, schools, libraries, and so on.

    So you use a wider tax base to pay for them.

    • Re:Makes sense. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:05PM (#35216776)

      So you use a wider tax base to pay for them.

      Absolutely. Since these resources are available to or able to be used by everyone, then use the widest tax base possible - raise taxes for everyone. If you can't pay for the poison control in your state, then your state needs to raise more taxes; state legislatures shouldn't be abusing growing industries just because they're terrified to say "higher taxes" instead of "wireless surcharge." It's either that or actually manage the state budget more responsibly.

      • Re:Makes sense. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:13PM (#35216836) Homepage Journal

        Ah yes this:

        "...manage the state budget more responsibly"
        I have come to believe that's actually a strawman argument when people use it politically.

        A politicians job is NOT to manage the budget, but to try to do what it's constituents want.
        So what happens when the people don't ant higher taxes, want all the services, and scream at politicians to 'manage the budget"?

        Well, you get in a situation where every pundit blames a politician for the problems when it's really the people that have a problem with a basic understanding of government finance.

        The is a delusion going on that the US government has a lot of waste. IN truth, it doesn't. In fct a large majority of govenrment programs are extremely efficient and costs are well contained.

        No, it's not perfect but it is damn good.

        If someone want's to cut something, then fine we can talk about that specific issue. But blanket statements like "mange the budget" and "cut taxes" are worthless in and of themselves.

        Sorry, I don't want to seem like I am ranting.

        • A politicians job is NOT to manage the budget, but to try to do what it's constituents want.

          Well, that's certainly the attitude that's gotten us into this mess. There are few things that we absolutely NEED government to supply.

          The is a delusion going on that the US government has a lot of waste. IN truth, it doesn't. In fct a large majority of govenrment programs are extremely efficient and costs are well contained.

          Have you had a lot of experience with government programs? In my experience, they are generally meticulously documented, account properly for every penny, and still are completely stupid ideas. It's not the process that's inefficient; it's the goal. Before we married, my now-wife managed an NSF grant for a public school system. She was careful to dot her i's and cross her

        • In fct a large majority of govenrment programs are extremely efficient and costs are well contained.

          Thank goodness I wasn't drinking anything when I read this statement, or it would have come out through my nose.

          I could fill this post with links to examples that run counter to your ridiculous statement, but I'll stick to just this one:

          Hightlights include:
          1. $25 billion that can't even be accounted for.
          2. DOD spending $100 million on plane tickets never used.
          3. Government credit cards that were charged millions for gambl

        • by 517714 (762276)
          It is the job of our elected officials to manage the budget. It is the job of the politicians to get re-elected, they do it by not doing the job they were elected to do.
        • by osgeek (239988)

          The is a delusion going on that the US government has a lot of waste. IN truth, it doesn't. In fct a large majority of govenrment programs are extremely efficient and costs are well contained.

          What is that sentiment based upon? In my experience, you only know how (in)efficient a program or operation is based upon a comparison. It's kind of hard to compare government programs like military operations when we don't have data from other non-govts doing something similar.

          My best experience is with comparing public education to private education at the elementary school level. My wife has worked in both environments over a period of 2 decades. There is no comparison. Public education is inefficie

    • It's true, but it doesn't excuse these kinds of hidden taxes. If there is a need to plug the budget hole, and cuts are not viable, then raise the income tax (esp. the highest brackets which have been at a historical minimum for the last two decades or so). But this? It's essentially an extra sales tax, except they don't call it such (in fact, they don't even call it a tax), and it's buried in your bill such that you have to know what to look for.

      I am, generally speaking, for reasonable amount of taxation to

  • Here in CA, the wireless vendors have to charge sales tax on the full retail price of the phone you buy even if you actually pay less than that with a contract. For example, my Droid X retails for $569.99. I can get it for $149.99 with a 2 year contract and an online purchase discount. I will be charged $52.72 in sales tax, which is an effective sales tax rate of over 35%! It's quite the ripoff!
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Well, no, because you got a $569.99 phone for $149.99. That's $420 the phone company paid you, which counts as income to you.

      That's if you could walk up with a phone you bought and get the same contract at the same rate. If bringing your own hardware results in a lower price, then on the discoutned-phone plan you're really paying for the phone on the installment plan, and the taxes in your contract rate should be lowered by the taxes you already paid on the phone.

      If they aren't, then you have a beef.

      • by Kneo24 (688412)
        I'm trying to figure out the part where the phone company pays someone every time they buy a cell phone. As far as I can tell, money is being exchanged from me to them. Not from them to me. Is there some new company out there I should be aware of? I like free money.
      • by acwnh (749367)
        No, it's a special case. If I buy a television (or anything other than a cell phone) on sale, I am charged sales tax on the actual price I pay, not the full retail value. If I buy the phone in a non-sales tax state, I don't have to declare the difference in price on my income taxes.
      • by severoon (536737)

        Yes, you're absolutely right. And if the phone company decides they don't want to make a phone available unless you get a plan, they could charge $1M for the phone and give a $1M - $100 rebate on it. Total cost to you: $100 + tax*.

        * taxes assessed on $1M. problem, citizen?

        Obviously, the phone isn't worth $570 when you get it with the plan. It's worth $150 in that case. I'll give you one guess as to where I got that number... -sigh-

      • Caveat: we'll ignore the fact that your monthly rate does NOT go down once you have completed your contract.

        According to the phone company the phone SUBSIDIZED via that 2 year contract. So, by your logic, and by the current state of things that means you are being DOUBLE taxed. How is that you ask: because the customer is providing $420 of value to the telco via the contract (rad: the telco gets their $420 via the monthly payment during the 2-year contract term). So now I'm taxed on that $420 at time of

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Coming from Canada I'm amazed at how low taxes in the United States are. I'd love to pay higher taxes and get a better society as a result. (Not that a better society is a given with higher taxes, but I do think higher taxes are necessary to support the functioning of a better society.) But this be the wrong way to do it. I'd love a simpler and more uniform tax code with lower corporate income tax with many fewer loopholes and higher personal income tax or sales tax (or GST or VAT or similar). The idea of s

    • I'd love a simpler and more uniform tax code


      with lower corporate income tax with many fewer loopholes and higher personal income tax or sales tax (or GST or VAT or similar).

      Er, why? Why do you want low corporate rates and high personal rates? How is it in any way beneficial to society?

      And sales tax? This one is effectively a regressive income tax - a horrible idea.

      • Lower corporate taxes are a good thing for creating jobs. Countries with high corporate taxes (like the US) experience outsourcing because the high taxes increase the cost of doing business, where countries with low corporate taxes experience insourcing (they're the ones the outsourced jobs go to). That's why pretty much every economist will tell you that the best way to improve the US economy is to drastically cut corporate taxes to get companies to move back to the US (then you get income taxes on all t
  • Taxes aren't a crime. Taxes are how we transfer wealth away from the wealthy and give entitlements to those deemed deserving. If I've learned one thing watching the news, it's that anyone who's against taxes are a bunch of Baracknophobic idiots.

    Baracknophobia: an irrational fear of hope (Jon Stewart)

    • dude, baracknaphobia is even more twisted than fartbama. Can we at least discuss this like grownups?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Taxes are how we transfer wealth away from the wealthy and give entitlements to those deemed deserving.

      That's a terrible definition, IMO. Practically a Baraknophobic strawman.

      Taxes provide, via defense, infrastructure, public safety, public education, etc., the basis for a stable society. That stable society is the basis on which almost all survive, many prosper and a few become very wealthy. Tax law holds people to their end of this bargain.

      • by 517714 (762276)
        All of the entitlements beyond those necessary to maintain a stable society are used to provide stability to the parties in power. Tax law is used to determine whose vote is purchased.
    • So does that mean that anyone who's against taxes is also a racist?
    • by timeOday (582209)

      Taxes are how we transfer wealth away from the wealthy and give entitlements to those deemed deserving.

      Taxes are somewhat redistributive, but the biggest ticket items (Social Security and Medicare) are mostly just forced savings!

      Yes, I know people will dispute this, since the entitlement is in the form of a promise of future payments instead of a dollar or some other promissory note. But the net effect is about the same.

      As for cellphone taxes, whether they are "archaic" or "duplicated" is beside the

      • Actually SS and Medicare aren't forced savings - that's the problem. They're a pyramid scheme of wealth redistribution where the current workforce is required to pay money to support the now-retired former workers of a generation ago. This works just fine as long as you have a constantly rate of population growth ( for any population growth rate >= 0), but once you have a significant decrease in population growth from one generation to the next (as the US did going from the baby boomers to the current

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Demographic shifts are bound to cause those issues, more or less regardless of how they are managed or accounted for. Money doesn't actually store value, it's just a way of recording future entitlements (although money does NOT specify what or how much of anything you'll be entitled to when you go to redeem it).

          A society with low birth rates will have a lower standard of living regardless of what numbers in bank computers say. There are less producers and more consumers. If people have lots of savings,

          • In a closed economy, you would be correct. However, we do not live in a closed economy and we do business (both buying and selling) with pretty much every country in the world.
    • No, taxes are a way to take money from a person who earned it and give it to a person who did not earn it. People like you think it's OK when the government takes money from those you dislike and gives it to you or those you deem "worthy", even though they didn't earn it or do a single thing to deserve it. However, if an individual forcefully takes money from someone and gives it to someone else they deem more worthy (or keeps it for themselves) we call this "theft". As someone (I forget who) once said,
      • Do you also call your landlord a thief when he forces you to pay the rent or else to GTFO?

        • Wow, totally fallacious argument. Not only do I voluntarily decide to rent apartment X at monthly price Y, but he is providing a service and I am paying for it. That is 100% different from you being taxed to pay me to sit at home doing nothing because I failed at life and can't keep a job.
          • Tortenglocke,

            the society provides you and your potential clients with the security and infrastructure you need for business transactions. This is the service you pay for. You also - providing you don't live in a dictatorship that doesn't allow its citizens to move out, which I doubt, otherwise you wouldn't have the means to bitch about taxes - are absolutely free to, as the analogy goes, rent a different appartment elsewhere. It is a free market after all. If you decide to stay within your current borders,

    • Meh, that's one thing I'll have to disagree with Jon Stewart on. I don't think Baracknophobia is an irrational fear of hope. I am pretty sure it's an irrational fear of change. Even in my home state (California) where we are supposed to be progressive and forward thinking (by stereotype), people seem to consistently keep things as close to the status quo as possible. Hell, I even have a coworker whose personal motto is, "Change is bad."

      I don't think it's the hope that scares people, but rather, the thoug
  • In fact, a few states even tax wireless consumers for non wireless-related projects

    In Mexico, when you pay certain taxes (like the "tenencia", which is a tax you pay every year for owning a car), they give you the bill and in it there are certain "voluntary donations" to stuff like the Red Cross, the Firemen, the Children Hospital and the State University. Sure, they say it's "voluntary" but they actually include it in the bill they send you every year and removing it can sometimes be a huge hassle. Not to mention the dirty looks you get from the cashiers...

  • My most recent cell phone bill was $53.88. That's on a $40 package that includes 300 minutes and Tmobile's MyFave addon. That rounds out to about 26% in fees and extra charges. I dont have texting. I dont have data. I'd say it's a bit excessive. I paid for my phone outright, and im no longer under contract with them, so in theory the bill should be lower.

    The only reason I could think that brings the cost up is that the bill is fixed each month. I cant go over 300mins or it just cuts me off. I can however t

    • Even by American standards. Unlimited voice+text+data plans go for a whopping $45 in the US.

      • I worked for a carrier that charged $62.50 for a $45 package that includes talk text & web, so im not paying nearly as much as some people. It was a post-paid monthly service.

        After seeing this thread i went and checked out AT&T's offering and it's on par with my carrier. They probably charge just as much too.

      • Unlimited voice+text+data plans go for a whopping $45 in the US

        With whom? And I do mean after-tax, after-fees.

    • From what I've seen (just my experience, perhaps it's my state), taxes and fees on cell phones are the same regardless of plan, so the relative tax rate decreases as the cost of your cellphone plan increases.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @11:14PM (#35217522)

    The statement in the header is misleading. Yes Utah charges a surcharge to fund the Poison Control Centers (someone you call if you or your child have been potentially poisoned so they can tell you what to do before the ambulance arrives, such as drink milk or charcoal or vomit depending on the substance). But Utah charges this surcharge against all phone bills not just Wireless. This post phrases it as if Wireless is the only phone hit with the fee. Maybe some of you kids without Landlines don't think you are on the hook for the taxes that landline users pay but that's not the way it should be. Everyone should pay the fee that goes to support 911 and other emergency services like the poison control center. Wireless should be no exception to these very legitimate taxes.

    Now on the other hand, if the fee is simply to go around the regular tax system and is being used for general services it's a bad tax.

  • Go prepaid. I Went from virgin to sprint, because I HAD to have an android. So of course 3 months later Virgin Mobile gets the same phone I got with sprint (the intercept) . Right now me and sprint aren't talking, and I'm not paying, still deciding if I'm going to go back to them or not. The only reason I would is because of my need to have the New 6G 5.4 inch Quad Core HTC PURECOCAINE ORGASM
    • I have the $25/mo plan from Virgin Mobile, 300 talk minutes plus unlimited text and data. No contract and the only extra is the sales tax on $25. They do have an entry level Droid phone for $150 but its way beyond my needs for just the occasional phone call.

  • My income tax rate is higher than the tax rate on my wireless bill. So what? An appropriate question is whether wireless customers pay more in taxes than landline customers. Neither the article nor the study even consider that obvious question.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein