Overwhelming Majority of Nebraskans Support Phasing Out Municipal 'Business & Occupation' Tax on Telecom Services

Feb 03, 2011, 13:39 ET from MyWireless.org

New bi-partisan poll finds Nebraskans also strongly in favor of reform to ensure more fair taxation in state with nation's highest wireless rate

LINCOLN, Neb., Feb. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An overwhelming majority of Nebraskans support phasing out the disproportionate and discriminatory municipal 'business & occupation' taxes (B&O) levied on wireless and other telecommunication services, according to the results of a new bi-partisan statewide survey released today by national nonprofit consumer advocacy group MyWireless.org®.  Legislation, LB 165, has been introduced by State Senator Deb Fischer (43) to freeze the current B&O tax rates, and slowly phase out the onerous tax over a six year period.  That legislation will be heard by the Revenue Committee in the State Capitol on Friday, February 4.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100915/DC65532LOGO )

Nebraskans currently face some of the highest monthly wireless tax and fee rates in the country – in some cities, customers pay in excess of 18% in state and local taxes and fees, and nearly 24% when federal taxes and fees are included.  Senator Fischer's proposal, if it became law, would cut taxes and fees on Nebraskans' wireless bills by as much as 25%.

Of the 400 cell phone users and likely voters polled statewide, top findings include:

  • An overwhelming majority of 76% (only 12% in opposition) support phasing out the municipal occupation tax on telecommunication services over a six-year period.  The support is broad and intense – with a 54% majority "strongly" in support of phasing out the tax.  The consensus for phasing out the municipal occupation tax is evident across all voter and consumer demographics.
  • By greater than a 10 to 1 ratio (68% to 6%), two-thirds are more likely to vote for a candidate for state legislature who supports phasing out the municipal occupation tax, rather than a candidate who supports keeping it.
  • After hearing the arguments from both sides of the debate, two-thirds (66%) believe Nebraska needs to phase out the municipal occupation tax, while only 18% are in opposition.
  • About two-thirds (65%) believe consumers in Nebraska pay "too much" in taxes and fees on their monthly landline phone and wireless phone bills.  One-quarter (24%) say consumers pay "about the right amount."  Only 1% thinks consumers "don't pay enough," and 11% did not know.
  • Despite paying nearly 24% (in some urban Nebraska jurisdictions) in combined federal state and local fees, the survey results showed that if Nebraskan wireless consumers were more aware of just how much they actually pay in taxes each month, the demand for tax relief would likely grow even stronger in the state.
    • 34% of wireless consumers think they pay less than 10% in taxes and fees;
    • 54% think they pay less than 15% in taxes and fees;
    • 64% believe they pay less than 20% in taxes and fees;
    • Only 12% say they pay 20% or more in taxes and fees;
    • And lastly, 25% did not know how much they pay in taxes and fees.

"This new survey data clearly shows that Nebraska's wireless consumers are tired of high and still spiraling monthly wireless tax and fee rates, particularly in tough economic times," said Brian Johnston, Director of Advocacy for MyWireless.org®. "Wireless is the service of choice for more than 1.5 million Nebraskans to stay connected every day to family, friends, coworkers, and in case of emergency.  And most Nebraskans believe they already pay "too much" in unfair monthly taxes and fees – the actual estimated annual wireless tax burden is $140 million – all just to communicate!"  Johnston continued, "Nebraska's consumers and voters want the State Senators in Lincoln to focus on this important economic issue for them and to pass LB 165, which would phase out the disproportionate and discriminatory municipal 'business & occupation' tax on their telecommunication services.  This would save them an estimated $21 million per year by the end of the tax phase out."

McLaughlin & Associates conducted this statewide poll of 400 adult wireless phone users who are likely Nebraska voters via telephone, from January 26-27, 2011.  MyWireless.org®, a national nonpartisan non-profit consumer advocacy organization, has joined together in a diverse coalition of Nebraska consumers, business interests and taxpayer advocacy groups to support legislation in the state to phase out the municipal 'business & occupation' tax on telecom services. To learn more about MyWireless.org®, or about the statewide survey, or to join the coalition's efforts to pass LB 165, 'the Nebraska Municipal Telecommunications Service Occupation Tax Act,' please visit www.MyWireless.org/issues/Nebraska.

SOURCE MyWireless.org