Policy Documents

Washington's Wireless Telecommunications Tax Rate is Discriminatory, Second Highest in Nation

Carl Gipson –

As more and more Americans increase their personal and business presence online, many of those folks are utilizing mobile phone technology, rather than traditional computing devices such as desktops and laptops, to do so.

Unfortunately, citizens and businesses in Washington state are having to pay more for using their mobile phones, even as their reliance on their handheld devices grows stronger.

A new report released by KSE Partners and published in State Tax Notes shows that Washington wireless customers pay the second-highest combined federal-state-local tax rate in the country in order to use their mobile phones.1 The combined rate for Washingtonians is 23.53 percent, whereas the average rate throughout the U.S. is only 16.26 percent. Our neighbors to the south in Oregon are subject only to a 6.86 percent rate, and Idahoans pay only a 7.25 percent rate.

This puts Washington wireless customers paying a tax that is approaching the level of “sin” taxes; the state of Washington’s tax on cigarettes is approximately 50 percent on a per-carton basis, and approximately 40 percent for alcohol.