Critics Call Planned Cell Phone Tax Unfair

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A plan to tax wireless phones in Baltimore County, MD is drawing heat. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. floated a proposal to tax residents’ $3.50 per cell phone, per month. He says it’s needed to pay for county priorities.

But council members say the plan is unlikely to pass without amendments, reports The Baltimore Sun. The issue, council members say, is the charges will quickly pile up when families have multiple cell phones. Olszewski proposed taxing each cell phone line individually — so a family with four cell phones would pay an additional $14 a month, or $168 a year.

“People are telling me how many phones and devices they have and how this will cause a hardship on them,” said Councilman Julian Jones. “Some people, this is their main line of communication, and it’s also their only access to the internet.”

“It’s too much,” said Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, who called the tax, “very regressive” and “unfair.”

Olszewski said the county, “has lost critical revenue” as families move away from landlines. The county currently taxes landlines at eight percent of the monthly bill but doesn’t tax wireless services, according to The Sun.

Officials expect to raise about $8.1 million this year from that landline tax — down from a peak of $13.2 million in 2007. The council is set to vote on the bill as part of its budget vote on May 23.

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May 15, 2019

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