JBE Signs Cell Phone Tax Into Law

JBE loves him some taxes. However, he was only able to get one tax increase through the Legislature this year.

Yesterday, JBE signed into law a tax increase on cellphones. Your cell phone bills will go up 4.5 cents every month in order to pay for the Telecommunications for the Deaf Fund.

From NOLA.com:

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that he has signed into law a bill enacting a new 4.5-cent monthly tax on cellphones.

The dollars will pay for technology assistance and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Current law imposes a 5-cent monthly tax on landline phones, with the money deposited into the Telecommunications for the Deaf Fund. The bill will drop that rate to 4.5 cents a month but expand the tax to wireless services.

The tax change by Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat, takes effect Oct. 1.

The new tax will raise an estimated $4.7 million annually.

The tax increase legislation was HB 582 by State Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge). It passed 79-14 in the state House and 30-1 in the state Senate. Virtually the entire Legislature voted for the tax increase. It was sold to the legislators as equalizing the treatment between cellphones and landlines.

Virtually the entire Legislature voted for the tax increase. It was sold to the legislators as equalizing the treatment between cellphones and landlines. Others may have voted for it because who can possibly be against deaf people.

Exit question: Do we really need a “Telecommunications for the Deaf Fund?” Is this another example of the government, regardless of what level it is, crowding out the civil society? Could a private charity, perhaps funded by telecommunications companies or other private businesses looking for a tax benefit, provide the technology and assistance to the deaf without involving the state of Louisiana? Wouldn’t this be a better way than involving the government?



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