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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 10, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Report: Washingtonians pay huge wireless taxes

If you think the taxes on your wireless phone bills are outrageous, you’re right.

A new report, called out by the Washington Policy Center, says the state has the second-highest wireless taxes in the country.

The report was produced by KSE Partners, a Vermont group backed by wireless companies pushing to reduce taxes on their services.

It found the combined federal, state and local tax rate on wireless services in the state is 23.53 percent. Nationally, the average rate is 16.26 percent. In Oregon the rate is 6.86 percent, and in Idaho it’s 7.25 percent.

The number includes fees such as the Enhanced 911 fee approved last year, which adds 95 cents per line, and extra wireless taxes imposed by cities. Cities can impose telecommunication taxes up to 6 percent or more with voter approval; the report notes that Olympia’s wireless tax is 9 percent.

Washington trails Nebraska’s combined wireless taxes and fees of 23.69 percent and beats the 22.83 percent paid in New York.

“This puts Washington wireless customers paying a tax that is approaching the level of “sin” taxes; the state of Washington’s tax on cigarettes is approximately 50 percent on a per-carton basis, and approximately 40 percent for alcohol,” the group’s small business and technology director, Carl Gipson, said in a release.

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Comments | More in | Topics: Public policy, Telecom

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