Sprint was caught for hitting up customers for a state tax on businesses that it doesn't even have to pay until next year.
The Texas Attorney General is now suing Sprint.
Now, a hidden charge on all cell and telephone bills that state lawmakers may not want you to know about has been uncovered.
It’s so troubling, even the cell phone companies are complaining. It’s a secret tax levied by the state that is reaping a windfall of hundreds of million of dollars each year.
As if the technology inside our cell phones weren’t complicated enough, the way the cell computations are displayed on the monthly bills have many of scratching their heads.
Maybe that's why telecommunication companies have no trouble passing along things such as Federal Universal Service Charges and Federal Wireless Number Pooling and Portability fees, which are all charges most of us pay without question.
Perhaps most confusing is one titled, “Texas TIF Reimbursement Fee.” It is imposed on telecommunication companies and ultimately passed through to the customers.
TIF, which stands for Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, was created by Texas state lawmakers in 1995. The goal was to raise $1.5 billion toward telecommunication and internet improvements in schools, libraries, hospitals and rural areas. In 2005, that $1.5 billion cap was met, and the agency that administers the fund was abolished. So why are consumers still being hit with that charge?
"What politicians have figured out is wireless is a way to raise revenue but without leaving fingerprints," Texas cell phone users are paying among the highest taxes and fees in the United States of more than 18 percent.
According to records, the TIF charge alone continues to bring in $210 million a year. That money does not go for technology improvements. It’s dumped into the state's $64 billion dollar general fund.
“It's certainly deceptive,”- “People who pay this tax think that this fee is going to be going for something when in fact it goes into the general fund and is used to balance the books.”
So how do top lawmakers responsible for spending the money respond?
If this tax were to go away that may be bad news for lawmakers in Texas who according to their budget have already factored in those revenues: $420 million over the next two years.