TARGET 8: Residents raise questions over increased cell phone bills

2 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, June 28 2016 Jun 28, 2016 Tuesday, June 28, 2016 1:51:00 PM CDT June 28, 2016 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
ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the Tour Championship (all times local): 5:58 p.m. Tiger Woods is a... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 5:12:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - According to Missouri state law, all children over the age of eight do not have to ride in... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 4:51:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police are searching for a person who ran away from a traffic stop in south Columbia around... More >>
2 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 4:22:00 PM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - One person died and another was hurt in a one-vehicle crash Sunday morning. Police said Perri A.... More >>
8 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 9:57:00 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri basketball forward Mitchell Smith was arrested early Sunday morning by the Boone County Sheriff's Department and charged... More >>
9 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 8:45:00 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in Sports
CLAYTON (AP) — A St. Louis man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2012 police chase... More >>
9 hours ago Sunday, September 23 2018 Sep 23, 2018 Sunday, September 23, 2018 8:27:14 AM CDT September 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – About one in 10 children are subject to sexual abuse, according to a local expert on the subject.... More >>
19 hours ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 11:18:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A water main break in MU's Hearnes Center early Saturday morning caused at least $100,000 worth of damage,... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 7:17:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
FULTON - The Fulton Police Department responded to shots fired at a McDonald's located at 303 S. Business 54 early... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 5:49:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a past sexual assault,... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 5:16:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
AUXVASSE - The Callaway County Sheriff's Office arrested five people Friday morning during a narcotics search at a residence in... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 4:16:00 PM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
FESTUS (AP) — A man and his adult son were killed when their small plane crashed near... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 8:20:00 AM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU partnered with two local groups to host a Chinese Moon Festival Saturday night at Twin Lake Recreational... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 22 2018 Sep 22, 2018 Saturday, September 22, 2018 8:02:00 AM CDT September 22, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD — President Trump held a campaign-style rally in Springfield Friday. Trump spoke in front of an at-capacity crowd... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 10:15:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A 46-year-old woman who set a fire that resulted in the deaths of two Kansas City... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 6:22:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Emissions near a troubled St. Louis County landfill once posed health concerns for workers and nearby... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 5:02:52 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
JOPLIN (AP) — Missouri Southern State University has abandoned plans for a dental school that would've operated in partnership with... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 4:51:59 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Some St. Louis police officers are still struggling with injuries more than a year after protesters... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 4:44:27 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 77°
7pm 73°
8pm 70°
9pm 68°
10pm 66°