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U.S. cell phone taxes, fees average 17 pct -study

(Reuters) – U.S. consumers pay an average of 17 percent in combined federal, state and local taxes and fees on their cell phone bills, said a study from the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., tax policy research group.

“Accessing content on our phones these days is easier than ever before, but paying cell phone bills remains difficult for many,” said Joseph Henchman, the group’s vice president of legal & state projects, in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Instead of singling out wireless services with stealth tax increases, state and local governments should seek more neutral and less disruptive sources of revenue,” he said.

The 17.05-percent average consisted of about 5.8 percent in federal charges and about 11.2 percent in state-and-local charges, the group said.

The states with the highest state-and-local rates were Washington State, Nebraska, New York, Florida and Illinois, while those with the lowest were Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and West Virginia, said the foundation.

It said that four cities — Chicago, Baltimore, Omaha, and New York City — have effective tax rates in excess of 25 percent of the customer bill.

The group said that the average rates of taxes and fees on wireless phone services were more than double the average sales tax rates on most other taxable goods and services.

At the same time, the foundation said that the 17.05 percent rate was down from 17.18 percent in 2012.
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