You may find a surprise on your cell phone bill. You may be paying much more in taxes than you think. Florida has one of the highest cell phone taxes in the nation.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Bruce Hammond, who moved to Tampa from Indiana. "If I changed to an 813 [area code], my bill would go up because of taxes… I said I'll keep the 219 area code, why pay more?"
Studies have shown Florida has the fourth-highest cell phone tax in the nation. On average, we pay more than 16 percent in state and local taxes on our mobile phone bills, bringing the total to more than 20 percent when federal taxes are included.
"That's shocking," said Tampa medical student Dalia Hussain. "I never knew that. That's really shocking to hear."
Some states passed a high tax on mobile phones back when they were considered luxury items for the wealthy. But when the prices came down, the taxes did not.
Now consumer watchdogs say this tax is punishing working class families because they are now more dependent on cell phones.
"It disproportionally affects lower income workers, seniors, students, folks on fixed incomes," said Tim Heberlein of the Florida Consumer Action Network.
Lawmakers from both parties want to change that. Tampa state Rep. Janet Cruz supports plans to freeze or possibly lower the tax. Tampa state Rep. James Grant says he will try to cut it as well.
They say it's an outdated tax that is weighing us down. They would likely have to find a way to make up for lost revenues if they cut the tax.
SEE THE NUMBERS:
Sortable state-by-state table of local, state, and federal taxes: http://taxfoundation.org/article/states-target-cell-phones-stealth-burdensome-taxes
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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