Maryland cell phone taxes ranked 12th highest in U.S.

By Christopher Goins

Cell phoneMaryland taxpayers paid higher rates on cell phone taxes than 38 states did in 2012.

Combined state and local taxes on cell phones of 12.77% made Maryland the 12th highest in the nation, according to a study by the DC-based Tax Foundation. With federal taxes added into the mix, that rate rises to 18.59% for Marylanders.

“This is just one more example of why Maryland is known as a “high tax” state,” wrote Randolph May, president of the Free-State Foundation, in a July blog post.

All American cell phone owners have to pay the federal rate of 5.82%.

Most neighboring states have lower rates

The state’s neighbor to the south, Virginia, ranked 44th on the list and has a state-local rate about half that of Maryland of 6.60%. And with federal taxes factored in still comes up to only 12.42%–less than Maryland’s state-local combined. West Virginia is even lower at 6.30%, ranking 45th.

Delaware, to the east, ranked lower than Virginia and West Virginia at 46th with a state-local rate of 6.28% and state-local-federal rate of 12.10%. And DC, if factored in to all 50 states, would have been 17th with an 11.62% state-local tax rate and 17.44% when taxed by all three levels of government.

Pennsylvania was the only neighboring state that exceeded Maryland. Ranking with the 8th highest combined state and local cell phone taxes, Pennsylvania had a 14.13% state-local rate and a 19.95% rate with the federal tax included.

Per line taxes burden family-share plans

The report noted that per line taxes are “burdensome” on low-cost family share plans. Baltimore’s local per line tax, for example, is $4 per month in addition to state and federal charges, it points out. Meanwhile, Montgomery County imposes a slightly lower tax of $3.50 per line.

From 1997 through last year, landline use has fallen and cell phone use has risen, the study noted. About 34% of households use cell phones only.

“This trend toward cell phones has not gone unnoticed by state and local governments, many of which have targeted wireless services for higher taxes,” the Tax Foundation reporter. It said cell phone users are “overtaxed relative to consumers of other goods” and may even be subject to double taxation at times.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. SkipjackIV

    The public has to expect high taxes when Tax, Tax, Spend, Spend Democrats are in office.

  2. InGodWeTrust

    OWE-Malley, hard at work to do his best to ruin Maryland.
    My next bumper sticker is going to be: WELCOME TO MARYLAND. LEAVE YOUR WALLET AT THE DOOR.

  3. hungrypirana

    “…cell phone users are “overtaxed relative to consumers of other goods” and may even be subject to double taxation at times.”
    No. Double taxation exists whenever tax is collected more than once from the same income. Taxes are imposed on income first. Taxes further imposed on any spending from what’s left over after income tax are double taxation.

    • ron

      What about MD having an alcohol and cigarette tax then charging sales tax on the tax?? MD has a $2 a pack cigarette tax that is figured in before they charge sales tax.

  4. ron

    The only surprise in this article is we aren’t higher than 12th.

    • abby_adams

      Please let’s not spread the word! Someone in Annapolis might hear your musings.

Support Our Work!

We depend on your support. A generous gift in any amount helps us continue to bring you this service.