Press-Republican

Pinch of Time

May 2, 2012

Most taxes hard to decipher

As I write this column, Toby and I just finished calculating our taxes at our preparer's house. It was a bad time to come home and clean out old receipts from the filing cabinet.

I started tearing up old paid bills, such as the cable, and couldn't help but notice how many taxes we pay. On just one cable bill we are charged: Federal Communications Commission administration fee, franchise fees, broadcast TV surcharge, (phone), end user common-line charge, gross receipts tax, federal Universal Service Fund, federal excise tax, regulatory cost fee, telecommunications excise tax, telephone sales tax and County 911 surcharge. Total: $18.06.

As far as I'm concerned, a fee or a surcharge is just another word for "tax." I don't mind paying sales taxes or E911 surcharges, but a franchise fee tax of $5.05? I don't own that franchise, so why should I pay a tax?

How about the cellphone bill? Clinton County, state and local sales tax, Clinton County wireless E911 surcharge, federal Universal Service Fund surcharge-wireless, New York telecommunications excise surcharge, public-safety communication surcharge and regulatory cost recovery charge. Total: $5.23.

How about the light bill? I expect to pay for electricity I use, but some of these charges are confusing: transition charge, New York state assessment, System Benefits and Renewable Portfolio Standard charge, merchant function charge and supply charge. I just don't know how our future generations are going to pay their bills.

The bottled-gas bill: hazmat fee and fuel-recovery fee. I don't deliver the fuel. Why should I have to pay a hazmat fee? Fuel recovery? For whom? Total: $17.45. I just don't know where it stops.

OK, I've got that off my chest. Now on a lighter note about taxes, there have been some rather funny ones in the past.

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