TARGET 8: Residents raise questions over increased cell phone bills

7 months 3 weeks 4 days ago June 28, 2016 Jun 28, 2016 Tuesday, June 28 2016 Tuesday, June 28, 2016 1:51:00 PM CDT in Target 8
By: Megan Kelly, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA – Some Columbia residents found peculiar charges on their cell phone bills in April and are warning others to take a closer look at their bills.

Resident Sara Whiting noticed a “Columbia city sales tax” and a “Columbia local business license surcharge” on her cell phone bill in April.

“We closely watch the bills in our house, and I noticed between March and April on our Verizon Wireless bill there was about a $4 increase in the cost of the bill.”

Whiting has lived in Columbia since May 2014 and said this is the first time she has noticed these charges. She said she was alarmed when her tax rate went from 9.0 percent in March to 14.3 percent in April.

“This is the first step in getting answers, and I know there are other people out there who are in a similar situation,” Whiting said.

Whiting said her coworkers also starting noticing these charges on their bills and were not sure where they came from. 

However according to Columbia’s Assistant Director of Finance Lynn Cannon, Columbia charges a seven percent tax on utility companies each month, according to city code. The local business surcharge on cell phone bills do not come directly from the city.

“That comes from the companies. We charge the company the seven percent gross receipt tax,” Cannon said.

In 2005, House Bill 209 authorized telecommunication companies to pass that 7 percent tax on to the consumer. How much the company pays to the city fluctuates each month based on how well the company is doing. 

“That’s going to depend on their consumer base, the number of customers they have at the time, the amount of receipts for the prior month. So that’s going to fluctuate. It’s not going to be the same dollar every month,” Cannon said.

The 7 percent tax on telecommunication companies then goes to the city’s general revenue fund, where the city council determines what this money is used for.

According to Whiting, she called the national Verizon Wireless customer service, and a representative said they didn’t know what the charges where, other than they were Verizon Wireless surcharges.

“I called the local office. And they also just said it was the government’s surcharges, and they were unsure of where they came from,” Whiting said. 

“Verizon is obligated to pay the Columbia local business license tax that is imposed by the locality on Verizon. This is passed through to Columbia customers, independent of any state or local sales taxes,” said Meagan Dorsch, Verizon Wireless External Communications.

Additionally, representatives from Sprint and AT&T said they also pass on this tax to their customers as well.

“There’s a lot of hidden charges. It’s just important to be vigilant and ask questions about it,” Whiting said.

More News

Grid
List
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal appeals court is ordering a resentencing for a southwest Missouri restaurateur in a $5.5-million... More >>
1 hour ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 11:17:30 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is shunning the state plane and instead relying on private donors and... More >>
1 hour ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 10:26:10 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Authorities say an officer has fatally shot a man who is accused of firing at officers... More >>
2 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:39:50 AM CST in News
UNIVERSITY CITY (AP) — A suburban St. Louis Jewish cemetery badly damaged by vandals is getting a show of support... More >>
2 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:29:00 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A proposal that could allow travelers to drink alcohol at flight gates at St. Louis and... More >>
2 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:21:54 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Police released surveillance photos on Wednesday related to a recent attempted robbery at Kilgore's Pharmacy on Chapel Hill... More >>
2 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:20:00 AM CST in News
MARSHFIELD (AP) — A southwest Missouri prison supervisor has been charged with pushing a female employee into a cell while... More >>
3 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:17:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hosting a State Advocacy Day on Wednesday to raise awareness for... More >>
3 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:59:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is holding a financial services forum with representatives from Congress and local bank... More >>
9 hours ago February 22, 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 2:32:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - When the FBI arrested terror suspect Robert Lorezo Hester, his friend and neighbor Analee Shatlain said she was... More >>
14 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:06:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Some people on the front lines of drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation have suggestions for parents on how... More >>
14 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 9:32:43 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence has planned to visit Missouri Wednesday to tour an equipment and engine... More >>
17 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 7:16:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The wife and stepson of the leader of a Ku Klux Klan group who was found... More >>
18 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 6:17:41 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA (AP) — Democrats are asking Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to allow an expansion of family leave options for employees... More >>
18 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 5:39:34 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council rolled out an overhaul of city development and housing rules Monday. The city... More >>
19 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 4:58:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are considering proposals to update state driver's licensing procedures to comply with federal law.... More >>
19 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 4:41:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Emotions were high as people told gut wrenching stories about how they are affected by the Affordable Care... More >>
20 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 3:54:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Gender accessibility has become a controversial topic on a national level, and a bill presented at a... More >>
21 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 58°
1pm 74°
2pm 76°
3pm 78°
4pm 78°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
12:30p
Inside Edition
1:00p
Days of Our Lives
12:00p
Jerry Springer
1:00p
Maury
2:00p
Judge Alex

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Blindspot
8:00p
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
9:00p
Chicago P.D.
7:00p
Arrow
8:00p
The 100
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld