The recent Robinson Muenster polling on the telephone tax issue. Stick a fork in it. Because the phone tax is done in South Dakota

In what I was told was the last poll that Jim Robinson of Robinson Muenster Associates (RMA) performed before his untimely passing because of cancer, at the end of August, RMA polled 500 South Dakotans about how they would vote on the Gross Receipts tax on cell phone service.

And according to the executive summary, this tax is going down. Hard. Don't believe me? Read it for yourself from the executive summary:
The results of the survey were encouraging to opponents of the additional Gross Receipts Tax on cell phone services. The respondents were initially asked if they were in favor of repealing the additional Gross Receipts Tax or if they were opposed to repealing the additional tax. Initially, 55% percent said they would vote YES to repeal the tax, 25% percent said they would vote NO, and 19% were UNDECIDED on the issue.

In an effort to ensure the accuracy of the research and to track the movement based on the message, they were then given a series of statements regarding the pros and cons of the additional Gross Receipts Tax. The messages did not sway their opinions in a direction of statistical significance or that was contrary to their original opinion of the tax. After hearing the statements in favor and in opposition of repealing the tax, 60% said they would vote YES to repeal it, with still 25% saying they would vote NO and 15% UNDECIDED. so in essence the movement was flat and within the margin of error.
60 percent in favor of repealing the cell phone tax once they hear the arguments. 25% against. The numbers don't lie.

Sounds to me that the counties had better dust off those nickel-a-drink tax petitions, because this cell phone tax is going to go down in flames. Think it can be fought? Good luck. It's best just to stand back as this tax goes down in flames.


Anonymous said…
The cell phone tax has zero bars.

But where's the polling from Leslee Unruh? If the yes on 6 polls looked good, they'd be shouting from the rooftops. Leslee's silence speaks volumes.
Anonymous said…
Hey dumb a--, whats that got to do with anything.
Anonymous said…
People will vote to repeal this tax to save themselves a couple bucks a year, and they'll turn around and vote for an increase in the cigarette tax to put an increased burden on "other people."

Here's a preview of an issue that will be on the ballot in 2008--the repeal of the centrally assessed tax on land-line phone companies. If cell companies aren't taxed, land-line companies shouldn't be either. Then, in 2010, repeal of the tax on all internet service providers because if companies who provide dial-up access aren't taxed, it wouldn't be "fair" to tax broadband providers. This is going to snowball. It won't be long and the only people paying any taxes will be the smokers.

Everybody wants services, but nobody wants to pay for them.
Anonymous said…
Anon 12:52 You are right, we've been paying the tax, or it's equivalent, on land lines for years. If the cell phone tax goes, the legislature should kill the tax on land lines in the next session. Shouldn't be taxing one competitor and not the other.
Anonymous said…
Just a note to follow up on the previous two posts...

If the cell tax goes away, then there will undoutedly be a debate about repeal of the taxes on traditional phone companies. If those companion taxes are also repealed, public education is the BIG loser--to the tune on $10+ million annually.

Does this change your view on this issue, PP?
Douglas said…
Cellphone taxes and fixed phone taxes are sort of apples and oranges.

Fixed assets have property taxes in South Dakota. Central assessment on the public utilities does this or the equivalent apparently.

Taxes on cellphone usage is or was different. It is more akin to a tax per minute of usage, etc.

South Dakota has treated phones like a luxury for tax purposes. It may be time to decide that phones are no longer luxuries.

Go ahead and raise the taxes on booze and tobacco. They still aren't high enough to return the social costs associated with tolerating these unnecessary vices.

Everytime you buy car liability insurance, you are subsidizing the liquor industry. Every time a hospital cares for an indidgent smoker or his family, we pay a premium for it.
Anonymous said…
In the last election all we heard about repealing the food tax was there was nothing to replace the loss of revenue to the state. What will replace this tax cut? Before you vote yes, ask yourself if 911 calling is important to your county.
Anonymous said…
It is very clear from reading these responses that there is a considserable amount of misunderstanding about this tax. First, the cell phone tax would removed roughly six million dollars from the state budget. That is less than one percent of the state's total budget. Second, education is not the big loser as "anon 10:08" would allege. The tax doesn't even raise ten million, it raises roughly eight million. Sixty percent of that money goes to the state and forty percent to the counties. The counties do not use any of that money for education. The state puts that money in the general budget, and I don't believe any of that money is earmarked for education. Finally, how can one logically say that if this tax is abolished then the land line taxes will be abolished. That argument only appeals to the "Chicken Littles" of the world. It can not be disregarded that South Dakotans pay a higher rate of tax on cell phones than our neighbors in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. South Dakotans pride themselves on lower taxes and economic development. How can a "sin tax" on a needed item match with either of those ideals.
Anonymous said…
It looks annon 4:43 just doesn't get it...

The comparison between wireless company taxes and wireline company taxes is valid.

Let me try this analogy to help you understand....In South Dakota, we apply a 3% excise tax to cars and to pickup trucks.

Are they the same type of vehicle? NO
Are they used for the same purpose? NO

But we treat them the same because they are both used for transportation purposes.

In the communications industry, both wireline and wireless companies supply communications services. It would be irresponsible to give one part on this industry a tax break without giving a break to the other side of the industry.

My argument is that if the wireless tax is repealed, not only will it impact county services (to the tune of nearly $4 million), but there will undoutedly be a debate about whether it is valid to keep the wireline taxes in place.

If the wireline taxes are repealed, public education stands to lose more than $10 million because that is where those revneues end up.

Now do you get it???
Anonymous said…
Education can't lose directly from the elimination of the tax. County governments are going to be the ones finding themselves short.

The other poster had it right... schools get stripped of about $10 million if, as part of domino effect, the Legislature repeals the wireline tax. That money goes directly to schools, and in some cases it is a significant amount of money.

What I don't get is that people actually think their cell phone bills will actually go down if this passes. Cell phone companies will find some way to make up the slack.

And even if it does, its less than $30 a year to the average cell phone user.

Sheesh. It's 30 bucks.

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