TARGET 8: Residents raise questions over increased cell phone bills

1 year 3 months 2 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
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri's U.S. senators are pitching the Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas as potential sites... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:32:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Race Matters, Friends is currently seeking out volunteers to sit in on, take notes on and observe court... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:27:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
FULTON - Westminster College has announced Dr. Fletcher Lamkin will take over as president later this year. Lamkin previously... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:11:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - One local business is helping raise money to donate to the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:05:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia is one of the top locations to start a small business, according to a 2016 Forbes list... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 6:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - City Manager Mike Matthes and his staff released a report Monday at the city council meeting on the... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 6:01:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia Police Department is proposing changes to the standing alarm system ordinance. The first reading will... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 3:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The House Ethics Committee took the first steps in disciplinary proceedings toward Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola after... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 3:31:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – People gathered at Columbia’s Planned Parenthood on Monday for a counter-protest against abortion opponents and the 40 Days... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:44:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Harry S. Truman VA Hospital invited behavioral health experts and local organizations to the 2017 Mental Health and... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
MEXICO - A 27-year-old man died after his car collided with a dump truck in Mexico, Mo. According the... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:32:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is headed to the United Kingdom and Switzerland on his second trade... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – If you passed Erifnus Caitnop on the road, you probably did not give it a second look. The... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
CARUTHERSVILLE (AP) — Authorities are searching for two inmates who escaped Sunday from the Pemiscot County jail. The... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:53:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- At Monday’s meeting, the Columbia City Council will discuss how to proceed with the development of land donated to... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A woman charged with voluntary manslaughter in a shooting death pleaded guilty on Monday. Police arrested Monique... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:02:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
O'FALLON (AP) — Authorities say a school bus and car have collided in suburban St. Louis, sending five students and... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:00:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - One man is in jail after authorities said he broke in to Goldstar Recycling in Jefferson City... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 12:43:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 70°
4pm 72°
5pm 70°
6pm 67°
7pm 64°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

3:00p
Dr. Phil
4:00p
Jeopardy!
4:30p
Jeopardy!
3:00p
The Robert Irvine Show
4:00p
The Goldbergs
4:30p
The Goldbergs

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
This Is Us
9:01p
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld