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Act Swiftly and Pass H.R. 1521, The Cell Tax Fairness Act

September 27, 2010

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
The Honorable Lamar Smith
United States House of Representatives

Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith:

     On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I urge you to act swiftly and pass H.R. 1521, the Cell Tax Fairness Act, to ensure a floor vote before Congress adjourns. The Cell Tax Fairness Act, introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), would prevent any state or local jurisdiction from imposing a new, discriminatory tax on wireless phone services for five years following the bill’s enactment. This legislation has received impressive, bipartisan support due to its sound tax-policy principles and pro-consumer goals.

     Between 2003 and 2007, taxes on cell phone services increased four times faster than those imposed on other general goods and services. The average American wireless customer now pays more than 15 percent in combined government taxes, fees and surcharges each month. While family members are forced to shell out more money to communicate with one another, these predatory taxes are often squandered on projects that have little to do with improving the communications network. To make matters worse, NTU research has shown that taxes heaped upon mobile service are among the worst of all the “hidden” levies not readily apparent to the people paying them.

     H.R. 1521 would help allow consumers to make choices based on the merits of technology, not the rate of taxation. This bill does not take away any existing revenue for state or local governments, but simply calls for a period of stabilization that would protect cell phone customers from misguided tax policy. The legislation would also help to further innovation and access in the digital marketplace.

     The urgent need for a five-year moratorium on new discriminatory cell phone taxes becomes more apparent with each day that state and local governments continue to unfairly target these services. As the Committee deliberates upon this legislation, we ask you to keep the best interest of taxpayers in mind. In this economy, every possible element of relief to American families should be of the utmost priority.  

     Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you as H.R. 1521, the Cell Tax Fairness Act, moves forward for consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.


Jordan Forbes
Federal Government Affairs Manager