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Taxes On Cell Phones Hit All-Time High

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-the-tax-market-will-bear dept.

Cellphones 171

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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Subsidize (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216530)

My Frosty Piss.

Not that unrelated... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216590)

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 :)

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216606)

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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216706)

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

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216786)

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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216976)

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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217518)

Where can I get a 25% return? I have some money to invest.

Re:Not that unrelated... (5, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218032)

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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217568)

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 it's supposed to go in the first place. I mean, tax revenue gets directed toward a general slushfund anyways without any external accountability. That behavior has got to stop!

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218140)

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. In the words of one of our greatest national leaders, the rent is too damn high.

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218260)

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 our fiat system. And just when it couldn't get worse, our Federal Gov compounds the issue with new laws in order to make housing more affordable to those that otherwise couldn't afford one. Sounds like a great idea in theory, but we all saw careless the banks got rolling loans over into an oblivious abstract cluster. Not to mention buyers getting into debt so high they couldn't pay off the principle. Sure enough, the entire system collapsed and no one wants to sell their home. Can't blame them, but it's still ratcheted too high. They're sitting on debt and now there's what seems like an eternal struggle between the seller and prospective buyer. Only when the home owner defaults, property returned to the bank, can the re-evaluation and negotiation take place at the "true" market value. Either way it's not pretty.

FYI, there is a nasty real estate bubble in Shanghai, China. God forbid, that's another shoe waiting to drop.

Re:Not that unrelated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217588)

"That money has to come from somewhere."
no it doesn't. stop spending so much and cut non-essential services.

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217692)

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 sinecure departments in every European government, or areas which could use more efficiency, or groups which could easily be merged.

Ideally, cutting back certain areas and raising taxes strategically should nail the deficits completely, which is a good thing when you consider a deficit is something which all citizens must ultimately pay for from their taxes. Strategic tax raises should be targeted at those sectors which provide minimal employment and minimal circulation of currency (productivity).

Re:Not that unrelated... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218042)

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".

Re:Not that unrelated... (5, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217720)

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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217846)

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.

Do me a favor, find a graphic that shows the amount of money/wealth held by each percentage of the population. See what it looks like.

Re:Not that unrelated... (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218124)

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 cash in bank instruments). I have outperformed the market since 1990 by several times. The stocks I buy are generally from companies that have products I like or admire, so there are a fair number of tech stocks, but mostly I just bet on the index. To be fair, it's only been Clinton-Bush-Obama, and even an idiot could tell that the market would tank with that monkey in the middle. If I had held those investments during Bush's term, I'd have probably lost ground, even including the big 90's boom. I think my index fund was at about 6800 when I bought back in during the first few months of Obama's term. It's around 12000 now. If a Republican should win in '12, I'll be out of the stock market like a prom dress. That might be when I finally just convert it all the euros and move to Montenegro where my wife and I bought a little place with the profits we took when Bush was elected. It's just a little house on the coast near Sutomore, but it's perfect for our retirement. With the way things are going, I think the next Republican president would be a good time to get out while the getting's good. Things are going to get real mean around here and I'd rather remember the US as the place I grew up in, rather than the Fox Nation it's become.

Let the bears pay the Bear Tax! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217838)

The cost of poison control services should obviously be paid by people who plan to be poisoned. Any other scheme is clearly unfair and totally worth whining about!

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217896)

((True Cost of Government) + (Fudge factor of extra-constitutional junk)) / (Number of Citizens) = the fair tax, per citizen.

Actual taxes are unfair, but necessary, simply because not everyone can afford their "fair" share.

The tax code is the formula used to balance unfair amounts of money taken from whomever can pay combined with printing money out of thin air and the politics of helping friends and punishing enemies.

I find it funny that people seem to want the government to "cut spending" but the government only (claims) to "cut the budget". If I don't send less this year than I did last yet, it is not a cut. PERIOD.

Re:Not that unrelated... (5, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

Idefix97 (725474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217600)

It's not that 911 operations need extra equipment: the tax is actually used for operating the 911 centers.

Re:Not that unrelated... (3, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217658)

It's not that 911 operations need extra equipment: the tax is actually used for operating the 911 centers.

Okay.

The poster I was replying to was under the impression it was needed to provide equipment for location information and training for new procedures. I was responding very specifically to that misunderstanding.

If that same tax is put on land line telephones and VOIP then I don't have a problem with it. It's strange to disproportionately tax cellular customers for a service that is provided to everybody.

Obviously, as many people have pointed out this is not what they are funding so much that is offensive, but that they are finding a product and service we hold to be valuable and taxing the living crap out of it to create badly needed revenue for all programs.

Land lines are absolutely on the way out. I predict we will move to a VOIP only solution quite soon, and even VOIP will start to take over wireless soon. Since the revenue is shrinking rapidly from land lines, cell phones are an obvious target.

However, slamming taxes that are unrelated to communications on to it only puts an unfair burden on the middle class instead of spreading it around evenly. Not that taxes are ultimately even or fair.

Aww, hell I disagree with everything about how we do taxes right now! :)

I was just trying to give an informative post on how 911 service actually works.

Re:Not that unrelated... (1)

Idefix97 (725474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217840)

I was just trying to give an informative post on how 911 service actually works.

As was I. No intention at all to bash you.

The young and the rich (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:The young and the rich (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Makes sense. (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216618)

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. (4, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#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. (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216836)

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.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216952)

Ok, I'll bite:
In 2010, the budget was 3.6 trillion.
In 2009, it was 3.1 trillion.
We budgeted for an extra half a trillion of government, but it doesn't feel like we're doing a whole heck of a lot better. It sure seems like somewhere in that half a trillion, there was a heck of a lot of waste. No delusion required.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217086)

We spent that much in attempt to stop things from getting much, much worse. Many economists were predicting a repeat of the great depression.

Would it have been that bad? Did the money spent even work? Would the economy be better if we spent even more? I don't know. And neither does anyone else. Our models just aren't that good.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217154)

Many economists were predicting a repeat of the great depression.

So, naturally, the best thing the government could do is what it did to make the great depression a great depression. You know, that isn't always the wisest course. Usually, when you look at history and see that certain courses of action had extremely negative consequences, then you find yourself in a similar situation, it is best to do something different. Unfortunately, our government decided that it liked the great depression so much that it would try the same thing again.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217190)

I see your reading comprehension isn't that good.

They did what one set of economists said would be best. Others said different. Neither really knows, they were guesses. Our economic modeling just isn't good enough to tell what would have happened, but feel free to bash it because your horoscope said it was the wrong thing to do.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217216)

They did basically the same thing that FDR did in the 1930s, which prolonged the Great Depression.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217246)

Or shortened it, depending on what economist, with what model, you talk to. Then there's the variable of how much to do it, vs doing it at all.

But I see you've swallowed one view hook, line, and sinker.

Re:Makes sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217368)

Lisa, I would like to buy your rock.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217014)

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.

Uh huh. let's look at the top three items, military spending, Social Security, and Medicare. In a sense, they are very efficient. They spend a lot of money without a lot of wasteful worrying about what that money is being spent on. Social Security is just a glorified check writing entity. Medicare is almost as bad (with a much heavier bureaucracy to make sure the checks are cashed properly). And military spending is heavy on cost plus contracts (yet more check writing), yet more comfortable ways to pass money on to private hands without entailing the risk of not making a profit.

But if you compare the size and cost of these programs to what they claim to do, you see that these programs are vastly inefficient and in some cases don't make sense at all. Currently, the claimed role of Social Security is to offer so-called "unemployment insurance". For that purpose, it takes somewhere in excess of $700 billion from US workers and moves most of it to retirees who are generally wealthier than the workers that the money came from. That's not efficient even if the administrative costs are low.

Medicare does similar things for medical care. It has pathetic cost controls and grows at a rate faster than GDP (meaning this program will need to be fixed at some point). I don't consider a financial disaster of our own making to be efficient.

Finally, military spending is more than the rest of the world combined. A large portion of it consists of expensive contracts to private businesses which end up hiring people for several times the cost of the military personnel they replaced.

Sure, a military that doesn't cut its own potatoes is a better fighting force, but the cost isn't worth that small improvement in quality. I'd rather have a moderately less capable military for a vastly lower cost.

Re:Makes sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217664)

No argument from me on the military side, but there are some counterpoints on Social Security and Medicare. The short answer is that both programs are economically worthwhile, but their current implementation is deeply flawed.

Social Security is not retirement savings. Social Security is about guaranteed income for your (potential and actual) nonworking years. That's important, because no matter how much you save, market risk, inflation risk, longevity risk (outliving your savings), and the risk of a career ending disability can potentially leave you without any means of supporting yourself. The only way to protect yourself from that is to have a source of postemployment income guaranteed by an entity that you expect to be stable enough to ride out bad times.

The problem with Social Security, is that it doesn't make use of one of the major advantages of pooling risks: long-run investment return is better than short-run investment return and the investment horizon for a group of people is longer than the investment horizon for one person. Right now, Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program which means the money isn't invested except in the form of loans to Federal agencies, which essentially amounts to the minimum possible return you can possibly get on your money. If the money paid into Social Security were earning a decent investment return, it would be an affordable way to provide core postemployment income. Getting to that point would require tackling some tough problems, such as avoiding allowing a government fund participating in the market being used for political influence.

Medicare has the same problems since it's also pay-as-you-go. It has other problems, such as spiraling claims costs, which you mentioned. On that point... well, dude, I hate to break it to you but, all healthcare costs have been growing faster than GDP... for decades [wikipedia.org] . The whole damn thing is going to have to be fixed at some point, not just medicare. It's really a pretty big clusterfuck since the underlying issue is that improving treatment of cancer and heart disease is increasing health care cost, due to the cost not just of initial treatment, but of ongoing treatment of survivors. Each additional year of life expectancy is more expensive than the last. At some point, people are going to start thinking about how much they're willing to pay to live to a certain age. Regardless of what you think the answer to that is, the cheapest way to pay for it is to pay a contributions over your working lifetime into a fund that will provide you with medical care in your postemployment years.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217254)

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

That's quite the scam (being able to spend trillions of dollars, but having no responsibility for doing so in a fiscally sound way) and I'm not in the least surprised that this remark is found in the same post as vacuous claims that the US government doesn't have a lot of waste. I read it as saying "Even if I'm totally wrong and government is wasting vast sums of money, it doesn't matter because it's the job of the American people, not the people actually delegating the spending, to make sure the money is spent right."

Well, I'm here to say that you are wrong about this as well your other claims. US Congress has been assigned the power to lay taxes and provide for the common defense and general welfare. Spending that in a way that harms the future of the US isn't providing for the general welfare.

Sure, you aren't likely to ever get a really bad spending law overturned on constitutional grounds, but I noticed that a number of unconstitutional things are considered constitutional merely because one can get away with the actions. Like something is legal, if you aren't caught doing it.

So what happens when the people don't ant higher taxes, want all the services, and scream at politicians to 'manage the budget"?

Compromise.

For example, I'm quite willing to compromise. I feel that the overall budget, including "mandatory" spending, needs to be reduced about 30-50% to reach near zero deficit. I'm willing to suffer modest tax increases in order achieve that goal. I'm willing to cut anything to reach that goal. Please, call my bluff.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217790)

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 t's, and the money was - at least on paper - spent quite properly. But the items the money was spent on were of questionable value, and the cash tended to flow to well-connected firms exclusively. Before she left, she made enough copies of the appropriate documentation to make sure that, should anyone investigate, she wouldn't be the fall guy. Yes, if you look at it from the Washington perspective, it was a great success - a grant was managed with less than 10% administrative expenses and provided a number of services to the local community. But from the local perspective, it didn't do anything really useful.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218100)

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:
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2005/04/top-10-examples-of-government-waste [heritage.org]

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 gambling, personal vacation trips, strip clubs, etc.
4. Billions wasted through Medicare.
5. The Army Corps of Engineers making shit up to justify unnecessary water and damn projects.

I could go on like this for days, but I think you get the point.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218282)

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.

Re:Makes sense. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217694)

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 provide for various useful state services (see sig), but for that to work, taxes need to be simple and straightforward, and spending needs to be completely transparent - like, say, just one progressive income tax (just make sure it covers investment income).

Fees (0)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216622)

In the last decade or so, random fees has become an industry all it's own.

Re:Fees (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216882)

Obvious reason for being an Anonymous Coward.

Working for a big telecom (not in US), one quarter, they asked our team to introduce a Service Access Fee for those who used a particular service without an explicit plan for that service, it was 50 cents so no one cared much, Q1 revenue gained, few millions, just like that.

Next quarter they asked us to charge an additional 50 cents as Administrative fee for those that did have an explicit plan for that service.

We did, but we were laughing at the business request.

my cell costs are now $7 a month (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216626)

discovered the benefits of a throwaway tracfone and haven't looked back...

all i want is a phone (don't even do SMS) and i am very happy...

recommend getting a double-minutes-life phone right off the bat...

can find 'em in a full box w/auto charger, hands-free set, and case for
$4.88 in the local dollar stores...

taxes? pppphhhht! negligible...

Prepaid data + Google Voice (1)

PRlME (871868) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216846)

I'm looking for a decent prepaid data option to just go wifi + prepaid + google voice and drop regular voice/data plans for good. Eying t-mobile's $1.49 unlimited data 24-hour day pass. I'm so rarely in a non-wifi environment (subway commute) it hardly makes sense to pay for a standard voice/data plan.

Re:Prepaid data + Google Voice (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217532)

I'm looking for a decent prepaid data option to just go wifi + prepaid + google voice and drop regular voice/data plans for good. Eying t-mobile's $1.49 unlimited data 24-hour day pass. I'm so rarely in a non-wifi environment (subway commute) it hardly makes sense to pay for a standard voice/data plan.

That's what I'm using. $100/1000 minutes, good for a year, and the $1.49 daypasses come out of the $100.

poison control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216638)

Would you really call poison control from a land line?

Re:poison control (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216834)

Would you really call poison control from a land line?

Me: Hey, what's this in the large white bottle in my kitchen near my landline? [sniff, sniff] It smells lemony. I wonder if it's lemonade or lemon scented bleach?
:: moments later ::
Me: Hello, poison control? I just accidentally drank dishwashing liquid while trying to get the taste of the worst lemonade ever out of my mouth ...

Sales Tax (1)

pedersend_ (1974104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216660)

Or it could be that us in WA only have a sales tax. So it's not that we pay higher fees and we get screwed, it's the method by which WA collects it's taxes.

Re:Sales Tax (1)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216754)

Just because it's the way that we collect taxes doesn't mean that we're not getting screwed.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216692)

As a Brit, this makes perfect sense to me. 20% doesn't seem particularly high. The current rate of VAT in the UK is currently 20% and that tax is applied to almost all purchases (including cell phone services).

From the article:

"On average, consumers pay over 16 percent on wireless taxes and fees, compared to 7.4 percent for other taxable goods"

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217080)

You got to pay for the services somehow ;)
In the US, you pay dederal taxes, state taxes, and county/city taxes. The state and county/city taxes can be both sales tax at time of purchase and a yearly tax based on value of things you already own.

I pay federal income tax, state income tax, state sales tax, county property tax based on value of things I own (my house, land, cars). Plus extra taxes added in for certain things like a county storm water tax, petrol tax per gallon, random fees called taxes for phone service, drivers license, vehicle registration etc..

Some states require a high sales tax and no state income tax, some pay a low sales tax and a high income tax, some do not one one or the other, some pay no or little property tax but they have a wage or school tax. Some states charge a vehicle tax when you register it yearly, some charge a property tax on the cars even if they are not registered. It is very confusing but most people only have to worry about they area they are in so it's not that bad to figure out.

Re:So? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217826)

The US has a different tax structure from many other countries; we depend heavily on individual and corporate income taxes for governmental revenue. There is NO national sales tax of any kind; sales taxes are purely state matters. Imagine if your local council were to have the authority to put up an additional 5% tax on all purchases.

Re:So? (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217914)

Which is absurd. You not only pay twice as much as the US in income taxes, but then you pay more than twice as much in sales tax on EVERY thing you buy, plus all the other mountains of taxes they add on. Wouldn't you like to, I dunno, actually have some money left from your paycheck to buy something you want or to save for the future?

CA sales tax (2)

acwnh (749367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216718)

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!

Re:CA sales tax (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216758)

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.

Re:CA sales tax (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216828)

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.

Re:CA sales tax (2)

acwnh (749367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216840)

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.

Re:CA sales tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217034)

As an added bonus in WA, we pay the sales tax on the 'regular' price of every item. So if a store offers a $200.00 off coupon on a $1000.00 TV, then we pay the 9.5% tax (varies by locale) on the $1000.00 not the $800.00. Lucky us!

Re:CA sales tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217292)

The Department of Revenue says that it depends on what type of coupon.

http://taxpedia.dor.wa.gov/ [wa.gov] - lookup "Coupons Used in Retail Sales" 2nd result is a Word file with that title.

This is what it looks like (IANAL, tax guy, what ever, and all that, but I think this is what it is saying here)
Says that if the coupon is issued by the retail store and redeemable only at that store, or at the affiliated stores of a chain is an actual discount, the the sales tax is the final value since the retailer will only get what the consumer pays.

A coupon issued by manufacturers or distributors and redeemable anywhere the manufacture's products are sold, since the retailer will get the full price of the good(minus maybe a handling fee), the full sales tax value has to be paid (usually by the consumer...)

So I guess that if you are paying the tax on the $1000, but only paying $800 for the TV, then it means that they are getting $200 from someone else.
(And 9.5%? You must be either buying somewhere in King or Snohomish counties since those are the only 2 counties that have any places with the combined rate at 9.5%)

Re:CA sales tax (1)

severoon (536737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217028)

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-

hidden taxes are worse than regular taxes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216768)

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 special fees and taxes on specific goods and services seems counterproductive to me unless they attempt to make up for the social costs imposed by using those goods and services. Cell phones seem to be valuable and accessible to almost all people, and so cell phone specific fees seem like bad taxation to me, even though I would like higher taxes in general.

Re:hidden taxes are worse than regular taxes (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217706)

I'd love a simpler and more uniform tax code

Agreed.

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.

Re:hidden taxes are worse than regular taxes (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217940)

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 the jobs created). But that won't happen, because "corporations are evil" and fuck if we all end up unemployed as long as those "evil" job providing businesses are punished.

What's wrong with taxes? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216780)

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)

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216940)

dude, baracknaphobia is even more twisted than fartbama. Can we at least discuss this like grownups?

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

Phaedrus420 (860578) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217046)

Can we at least discuss this like grownups?

No, you! lalalalalala. I can't hear you. pbbbbbbbt!

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217016)

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.

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217038)

So does that mean that anyone who's against taxes is also a racist?

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217072)

It's very possible, they're both expressions of extreme stupidity.

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217628)

your comment is an expression of extreme stupidity

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217668)

And here I've been told by the media that Barack Obama would be the "Great Unifier" when in fact he's really propped up to defend against anyone who disagrees with his policies as "racist" by people like you.

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217748)

As are blanket statements. Thanks for playing.

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217336)

Maybe if Warren Buffet paid $1 million/month tax for his cell. Of course he is too cheap to even pay a few dollars in taxes and doesn't carry one...

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217372)

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 point, as is whether "this" money pays for "that" service. What matters is the size of the tax burden and how it is distributed, and the quantity and quality of government services, and how they are distributed. The rest is semantic games.

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218076)

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 generation), then it all falls apart (which is exactly what's happening to the US) because either a) you keep the contributions per worker the same and then run a massive deficit due to the lower ratio of workers per retirees or b) you drastically raise taxes to compensate for the lower ratio of workers to retirees, but then the current generation both has a lower standard of living and less money to save for retirement.

Re:What's wrong with taxes? (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217956)

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, "If I cannot legally do something, what right do I have to petition the government to do it on my behalf?"

Free nationwide minutes? (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216824)

Why would anybody buy a phone in one of these states?

Buy the phone in a state with reasonable taxes, lie about your address if you have to and go for the internet/paperless billing option.

Simple technical solution to a social problem (politicians with no spending discipline). Starve the beast.

Re:Free nationwide minutes? (4, Interesting)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217002)

Rent a mailbox in Oregon (or other favorable state), charter a corporation, get a phone + plan in the corporation's name. As long as you're routinely on the home network (not siphoning their profits to competitors via roaming agreements), they won't care. Bundle other location-dependent services like vehicle registration and insurance. Contract with a local registered agent as the corporation's location. With care, it'll cost a lot less in taxes. It's beneficial if you want change, no matter which change you want, since it creates more burden on the tax system by removing support from it. With enough people removing themselves from high-tax jurisdictions, the low-tax jurisdictions will be forced to change or the high-tax ones will break under the strain. Either is a win, depending on what team you root for.

Re:Free nationwide minutes? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217376)

Why would the low tax locations be forced to change. They are laughing all the way to the bank. The high tax locations would be forced to change to avoid breaking. If that means a few parasites have to find honest jobs I'm good with that.

Re:Free nationwide minutes? (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217982)

There are powerful interests behind many different taxes. Some are populist, some are protectionist, some are for other reasons. It's not always (or even usually) the most efficient system that wins out. There are a lot of outside influences that don't necessarily care how a system works; they want it to work to their own ends.

So what? many choices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35216910)

Most people have access to multiple carriers. Whether your poor or rich, you can find a cellular plan that fits your needs. That's why a tax on it isn't a big deal. If home internet access becomes that omnipresent and accessible, I expect it to be taxed just the same.

I wish there was a hipster tax.

Re:So what? many choices... (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218098)

I wish there was a hipster tax.

I just wish all the people in favor of high taxes were the ones who actually have to pay those high taxes. Unfortunately it's always those who pay little or no taxes demanding others pay higher taxes to subsidize their lifestyle.

Note: Before anyone claims that I'm some rich person who doesn't want to pay taxes, I made a whopping $22,000 last year before taxes, I simply believe in wacky notions like personal responsibility and that one person shouldn't be forced to pay for another.

I've seen that before (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35216928)

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...

Nebraska cell phone tax... (1)

flatbedexpress (1604573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217018)

The Nebraska legislature is looking at possibly passing a bill that will drop the cell phone occupation tax all together. But, a lot of cities like Omaha are freaking out about losing out on that money. So they're putting up a fight to stop this bill from passing.

taxes are excessive! (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217056)

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 talk to my MyFave contacts for as long as i want and use nights and weekend minutes starting at 9pm

Taxes are not excessive, you are just being gauged (1)

Vekseid (1528215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217130)

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

Re:Taxes are not excessive, you are just being gau (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217236)

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.

Re:Taxes are not excessive, you are just being gau (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217848)

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

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

Re:taxes are excessive! (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218106)

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.

Re:taxes are excessive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218236)

ProTip: add a google voice line as a MyFave and you're set for free phone calls.

They will get the money (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217420)

Whether it's a user fee, "sin tax", sales tax, ad infinitum....your government is especially adept at this one thing: getting your money in a fashion least likely to catch your attention enough to cause you to vote against them.

Utah Poison Control Centers (5, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Simple answer... (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217686)

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

Can't beat the price (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217926)

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.

att mta tax. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218164)

ATT wireless in nyc charges a mta tax. Verizon wireless in nyc does not. Figure that out. Since no ATT phone works on a subway.

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