ABC6 Investigates The Money Trail: Cable Bill Taxes and Fees

Updated: 07/16/2014 11:11 PM
Created: 07/16/2014 10:42 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Have you ever taken a close look at your monthly cable bill? You may be surprised by all the added taxes and fees, and how quickly they add up.

In our latest "Money Trail Investigation" we examine a typical cable bill. It includes cable, phone, and internet. The monthly bill is around $200. But looking closely, you'll see nearly $31 dollars of that is in added taxes and fees. There are nine added charges in all.

We talked with people who didn't know what any of the charges even are. The one fee most people knew of was the sales tax. It is also the largest fee.

On the bill we have, it is $13. That also includes the Rochester city sales tax and Olmsted County transit tax.

"That money goes to improve pavement and blacktop. We have 100 miles we need to do," says Mike Sheehan with Olmsted County Public Works.

The second largest fee is one administered by Charter. It is called a line access fee, which is charged to people with home phones to cover the company's expenses to offer long distance. On our bill it was $7.50.

Charter Communications issued a statement saying, "Charter collects and pays all required taxes and fees just as any other business would operate."

One of the smaller fees, at just $0.78, is probably the most important. It's the state E911 surcharge. The fee is placed on all phone bills. So if you have home phone and a cell, you pay it twice.

It adds up to $60 million for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety each year. $250 thousand goes to the 911 dispatch center in Rochester.

Olmsted County Sheriff Dave Mueller says, "It really is just to maintain the level of equipment that we have to identify where 911 calls are generated so we can send the right individuals to the right place at the right time during an emergency."

So while some of the fees are easier to understand, when you add them up it can be tough to take. The taxes and fees on our bill add up to nearly $372 a year.

Added taxes and fees are not uncommon and are not just limited just to Charter. As one man we spoke with simply put -- it's businesses.

To learn more in depth about those added fees -- click here.