As the D.C. City Council weighs a major 51% hike in telephone taxes, metro area residents living just north in Maryland have a battle of their own. Facing a $1 billion overspending addiction, the Montgomery County Council is now taking up a proposal to raise the tax on residents’ cell phones by up to 50% per line.

The nearly $12 million tax hike would push the tax rate on cell phones to 22 percent in Montgomery county – almost 4 times higher than the general sales tax rate in Maryland. It would also be three times higher than the cell phone tax paid by Virginia residents, further increasing the comparatively onerous tax burden for residents residing on the Maryland side of the D.C. metro area.

The cell tax would also target residents who use wireless broadband Internet connections. The FCC’s recent National Broadband Plan already aims to target wireless Internet users with the Universal Service Fund tax. As more people surf the Net through wireless connections (market share for wireless and satellite together has already jumped to 17%), this is bound to slow broadband adoption.

Montgomery county officials ought to take a queue from their neighbors in next door Prince George’s county. Back in 2008, a ballot measure that would have raised the phone tax to 19 percent – less than the Montgomery County proposal – was shot down by 71 percent of voters. Given that, it’s highly doubtful county officials have the support of their residents on this one.

Montgomery residents: contact your council members below.

Nancy Floreen, Council President
[email protected]

Montgomery County Council General Contact
(240) 777-7900
[email protected]

Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Executive
(240) 777-2500
[email protected]