Deciphering your mobile phone bill can feel like navigating through a labyrinth of perplexity, especially with the myriad of federal, state, and local taxes appended at the end of each statement. At AnyTimeSoftcare, we believe in shedding light on these intricacies to empower consumers with knowledge about their expenses.

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For wireless subscribers retaining their old phone numbers during relocations, it’s prudent to verify if they are being billed correctly. Some may unknowingly be subject to incorrect rates, leading to potential overcharging, while others might discover savings on their bills.

In this edition of our informative series, we delve into the assessment of cell phone state and local taxes, providing insights and resources to aid readers in determining the accuracy of their charges.

Furthermore, we address a reader’s inquiry regarding the anticipated availability of the new BlackBerry Torch on Sprint Nextel. Additionally, we offer our perspective on the discontinuation of Qualcomm’s mobile TV service Flo TV.

Join us at AnyTimeSoftcare for our weekly advice column, where we unravel queries on wireless and broadband services. If you have a question, reach out to us via email at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com with “Ask Maggie” in the subject line.

Understanding Mobile Phone Taxes: What You Need to Know

Are you unsure about the taxes on your mobile phone bill? You are not alone. Many individuals, like Larry, find themselves questioning the taxes and fees included in their cell phone bills. Understanding how these charges are calculated is essential to ensure you are not overpaying.

When it comes to determining your mobile phone tax rate, it should be based on your current location and primary usage. The Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act dictates that wireless taxes and fees should be tied to your billing address, not your phone number’s area code. This means that where you reside and use your phone determines the applicable tax rate.

In some cases, individuals have discovered discrepancies in their tax charges when they move to a new location. It is crucial to review your bill periodically to confirm you are being taxed correctly.

Comparing State Tax Rates

Each state has varying tax rates for mobile services. For example, Pennsylvania imposes around 6.5% in local and state sales tax, totaling approximately 13.58% with additional fees. In contrast, California’s combined local and state taxes amount to 9.10%, significantly lower than Pennsylvania. While the variance may seem minor on an individual bill, it can accumulate over time.

Nationally, cell phone consumers face an average tax rate of 15.75% monthly, much higher than other goods and services taxed at around 7%. State taxes differ, with Washington having the highest rate at 23.6%, while Oregon boasts the lowest at 6.79%.

Deciphering Your Bill

Understanding your cell phone bill can be challenging due to the multitude of taxes and fees. Federal taxes, state taxes, local taxes, and additional fees such as e911 service charges are common components of a phone bill.

Local governments often add their taxes and fees on top of state charges. For instance, residents of New York City endure various surcharges, resulting in a total tax rate of 21.10% inclusive of federal taxes.

Seeking Resolution

If you suspect inaccuracies in your tax charges, reach out to your wireless carrier for clarification. They are responsible for applying the correct tax rate based on your billing address. If unresolved, contacting your state attorney general’s office or a consumer advocacy group for assistance is recommended.

Legal recourse, such as engaging with law firms specializing in class action lawsuits, may be an option if you believe you are being incorrectly taxed. Ensuring you are paying the correct tax rate is essential in managing your monthly expenses.

A Sprint Nextel BlackBerry Torch?

Dear Reader,

If you are eagerly awaiting news about the BlackBerry Torch or a similar device on Sprint, I have some insights to share that might interest you. Many users, like Zinia, have been patiently waiting for a comparable BlackBerry phone to address their concerns with current models. Zinia’s loyalty to BlackBerry is evident, but recurring issues with her BlackBerry Curve have left her contemplating a switch to Android.

While there might not be immediate plans for a BlackBerry Torch release on Sprint, there is still positive news to consider. The BlackBerry Style, equipped with the innovative BlackBerry 6 operating system, has made its debut on Sprint. Despite differing in design from the Torch, the Style offers a unique clamshell form factor with a full QWERTY keyboard and substantial features.

Reviews from industry experts like Kevin Michaluk and Nicole Lee highlight the BlackBerry Style’s capabilities and user-friendly interface. Michaluk praised the device’s performance and affordability, making it an attractive option for users seeking a reliable smartphone experience.

In summary, while the BlackBerry Style may not be a direct replacement for the Torch, it presents a compelling alternative worth exploring, especially for dedicated BlackBerry enthusiasts looking for an upgrade. Before transitioning to Android, considering the BlackBerry Style on Sprint could offer a satisfying solution to your current device concerns.


  1. How are mobile phone bills calculated? Mobile phone bills are calculated based on a combination of federal, state, and local taxes, as well as additional fees set by wireless carriers.

  2. What factors determine the tax rate on a mobile bill? The tax rate on a mobile bill is determined by the location where the phone is primarily used, known as the “area of primary usage.” This location is based on the billing address, not the phone number’s area code.

  3. Are consumers often overcharged on their mobile taxes? Some consumers have reported being overcharged on their mobile taxes when they have relocated, highlighting the importance of verifying the accuracy of tax rates.

  4. What is the average tax rate on cell phone bills in the U.S.? On average, American cell phone consumers are taxed 15.75% on their monthly bills, including federal, state, and local taxes.

  5. Which states have the highest and lowest tax rates on cell phone service? Washington state has the highest tax rate at 23.6%, while Oregon has the lowest at 6.79%.

  6. What are some common types of taxes and fees on cell phone bills? Cell phone bills may include federal taxes, state sales taxes, local taxes, e911 service fees, and additional fees imposed by cities and local governments.

  7. How can consumers verify the tax rates on their cell phone bills? Consumers can check websites like for state and local tax rate charts and contact their wireless carriers to ensure accurate tax charges.

  8. Is there advocacy to regulate and limit taxes on cell phone service? Consumer advocacy groups and wireless industry associations are pushing for legislation to standardize and limit taxes on cell phone services.

  9. What actions can consumers take if they suspect incorrect tax charges on their cell phone bills? Consumers can contact their wireless carriers, state attorney general’s offices, or consider legal recourse through specialized firms.

  10. Are there alternatives for BlackBerry users on Sprint interested in new phone models? While the BlackBerry Torch may not be available on Sprint, the BlackBerry Style offers a similar user experience under the new BlackBerry 6 operating system.

  11. Is there hope for the revival of the Flo TV service? The discontinuation of the Flo TV service and devices suggests unlikely revival, as changing consumer preferences and market dynamics have impacted its success.

  12. What strategic options are being considered for the Flo TV network? Qualcomm, the parent company of Flo TV, is exploring opportunities such as partnerships and spectrum sales amid the changing landscape of wireless services.


Navigating mobile phone bills can be complex due to various taxes and fees applied, making it essential for consumers to understand how charges are calculated. Verifying tax rates and ensuring accurate billing address information can help prevent overcharges. Advocacy efforts are underway to standardize and limit taxes on cell phone services. Consumers have avenues to address incorrect tax charges, from contacting carriers to seeking legal assistance if needed. For BlackBerry users on Sprint, alternatives like the BlackBerry Style offer comparable experiences. The discontinuation of the Flo TV service reflects evolving consumer preferences, with potential strategic shifts in the network’s future. Understanding these dynamics can empower consumers to make informed decisions and advocate for fair billing practices in the mobile industry. For more information and tips, visit our website for additional resources and insights.