Death and (cell phone) taxes


While death is still non-negotiable, taxes may not be quite the inevitability that most people believe. Admittedly, those of us who live off our paychecks are stuck with paying federal income tax, but it's pretty clear that state and local taxes vary greatly depending upon where one lives. For example, as New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" motto suggests, the Granite state doesn't charge income tax.

New York City, on the other hand, levies a pretty hefty tax on just about everything. Recently, a Consumerist reader compared an NYC Verizon cell phone bill to one from New Jersey. Although separated by less than a mile, the two localities showed some surprising differences. To begin with, the New York cell phone subscriber paid over $7 more per month, resulting in a cost of almost $90 per year. While much of this difference came from the addition of city taxes and something called a "gross receipts surcharge," a large part also came from additional charges that the cell phone carrier and the federal government tacked on. For example, while Verizon's New Jersey surcharge is $1.81, in New York it's $4.24.

It's worth noting, by the way, that I also live in New York City, but my T-Mobile bill doesn't list a surcharge.

Regardless of whether you live in New York or New Mexico, it might be worthwhile to take a long, hard look at your cell phone bill. While you probably can't do much about local and state taxes, you might just find that your company's "surcharge" varies greatly, depending on your locality and your carrier. By switching companies, or having your bill sent to your work address, you could save yourself a lot of money!