Illinois among nation’s highest cell phone tax rates: Study

A new study says Illinoisans pay the fourth-highest taxes in the nation for their cell phone service, and that hits the poor the hardest.

Many people, even those who are of lesser means, use a cell phone as their primary line. The Tax Foundation, a non-partisan Washington D.C. think tank, puts Illinois’ state and local wireless tax rate at 17.84 percent. Tacking on the federal tax brings that to nearly 25 percent.

Scott Mackey, managing partner with KSE Partners in Vermont, helped with the study and said it doesn’t matter whether you’re a millionaire or struggling to get by – everyone pays.

“These taxes and fees can be very burdensome on the people who can least afford it, and increasingly, poorer people are cutting the cord and relying on wireless as their sole means of communication, so these taxes really add up on some of the low-income folks,” Mackey said.

If you think you’re escaping Chicago’s high rate by living downstate, think again. Mackey said downstaters are still paying the government one-and-a-half times more than the average American to use their cell phone.

Local, state and federal taxes on cell phone service can add up, Mackey said.

“Governments at all levels get revenue, and usually when you give government at all levels access to taxpayers, they take advantage of it.”

Mackey said Chicago has the highest wireless tax in the state, meaning residents pay two times more than the country’s average, but it’s not much better in other parts of the state. “Although the problem is worse in Chicago, Illinois still has relatively high taxes on consumers downstate as well.”

While Illinoisans pay a combined local, state and federal wireless tax of nearly 25 percent, Chicagoans pay a combined 36 percent wireless tax, the highest in the country.

The Tax Foundation study said only three other states had higher state and local taxes on cell service, and that’s New York, Nebraska and Washington.

The study can be viewed at

–Illinois News Network

One thought on “Illinois among nation’s highest cell phone tax rates: Study

  • October 14, 2016 at 11:50 am

    There are flat-rate carriers, carriers that offer service at a fixed monthly rate that includes all services and fees. Examples of these carriers: Cricket Wireless,; and MetroPCS, There may be other carriers, and some of the major carriers may have fix-rate plans, inclusive of taxes and fees. Rate plans change often. Always ask about rate plans. Tell the sales person you are on a fixed budget and need a predictable rate plan. If they can’t offer one, look elsewhere. U.S. Cellular doesn’t have fixed-rate inclusive of taxes and fees, but it does have a good pre-paid rate plan, and the taxes and fees shouldn’t vary from month to month. In addition, U.S. Cellular carries many different phones from you to choose from and has very good customer service. Visit U.S. Cellular’s pre-paid phone page here:

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