Stealth taxes are like tapeworms. One doesn’t see them but sure enough the parasite eats away. Your phone bill (depending on where you live) is probably full of tapeworms, I mean stealth taxes. Most of which weren’t even voted on by your representatives. The surcharges, taxes, whatever are mostly determined by state regulators. (Which are lobbied.)
But you can feel better knowing that many of these taxes are essentially revenue streams for giant wireless providers. I know it makes me feel better.
By mid-2015, the number of Californians getting voice, text and data service underwritten by their neighbors doubled to 2.2 million, meaning that about 27 million adult Californians are paying for the cell phone plans of about 2.2 million people with a 7.894% surcharge tucked away on their money online statements—if they bother to look at them.
In total, California’s rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul telecommunications taxes and spending will hit almost $750 million this budget year, meaning every Californian who isn’t getting a benefit will be paying about $30 a year more on their phone bill for what is, by any definition, a government wealth redistribution program.
Phone companies in California have advocated for the lifeline program from the start, since it allows them to expand market penetration to poor consumers while boosting profits by making other people pay for it.