Seventeen percent of the average monthly cellular phone bill in 2004 was comprised of federal, state, and local taxes. As the number of wireless subscribers across the nation continues to increase, states, cities, and counties are increasingly seizing upon cellular taxation as a panacea for budget shortfalls. The Maryland Tax Court’s recent decision in T-Mobile USA, Inc. v. Department of Finance for Baltimore City held state and county taxes on the sale of individual cellular lines as legal excise taxes rather than illegal sales taxes. This iBrief will highlight the origins of telecommunications taxation, examine the ruling in T-Mobile in detail, present the arguments in opposition to disproportional cellular taxation, and conclude by anticipating what the future might hold for the cellular industry.
Daniel P. Slowey, T-Mobile USA Inc. V. Department of Finance for Baltimore City: What the Latest Salvo in Disproportional Cellular Phone Taxation Means for the Future, 5 Duke Law & Technology Review 1-12 (2006)