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Study: Utah cellphone taxes higher than average

Published January 30, 2013 10:51 am

Telecom • Utahns pay 18.49 percent — 13th highest in the nation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Often unnoticed in cellphone bills for Utahns are higher-than-average taxes, a new study says.

The Tax Foundation reported Wednesday that Utahns pay an average of 18.49 percent in cellphone taxes, of which 12.67 percent on average are state and local charges.

That ranks 13th highest among the states and above the national average of 17.18 percent overall tax with 11.36 percent charged by state and local governments.

Nebraska had the highest average overall cellphone tax in America at 24.49 percent (18.67 percent of that is state and local), and Oregon had the lowest at 7.67 percent (with just 1.85 percent charged by state and local governments).

The study notes that cellphone use is taxed at a much higher rate than other consumer items, even alcohol or cigarettes. It noted that the highest sales tax in the country is 9.43 percent in Tennessee, but the highest state and local taxes for cellphone service are almost twice as high.

"State and local governments should not single out one product for stealth tax increases as they are doing with wireless services," said Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation vice president for legal and state projects.

"Scholars from across the political spectrum have criticized telecom taxes as burdensome, regressive and stifling consumer choice," said Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard.

ldavidson@sltrib.com