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Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

I have been trying to figure out Verizon's taxes and fees and plan billing scheme for years.  Since I switched to the unlimited "everything for one price" plan, though, it's really got me confused.  It seems that sometimes I get overcharged by $5.00 on my plan, sometimes I get a random credit, and the taxes and fees continually go up and down. 

The overcharging seems to be credited the next month, but the surcharges and taxes/fees are another story: I do not see where the variability may be coming from, and there is never an explanation for the credits, just the random credit for an even $5.

It looks like the proper charges on my account for the surcharge should be $1.87 and the taxes/Fees should be $1.94 (these are based on percentages of my billed charges, right?) and, if the charges to my bill don't change, in theory those should not, either, but they do, and randomly.

Can anyone explain this?  I have tried calling, but the rep will only say "Those are the fees. We have no control over that."  Here is the breakdown of my bill (exactly the same every month, no equipment or other charges):

Balance Fwd-$5.00$0$0$0$0$0$0
One Time Charges/Credit$0$0$0$0-$5.00$0-$5.00
JetPack Router$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00
Cell Phone$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00$20.00
Government Taxes/Fees$2.842.841.942.841.941.942.84
Overage on Surcharge?$1.40$1.38$0.02$1.38$1.36
Overage on Govt Taxes/Fees?$0.90$0.90$0.90$0.90
Overcharge on Plan$5.00
Verizon owes me$2.30$2.28$0.02$2.28$2.26

By my reckoning, Verizon has paid me back for the $5.00 overcharge on my plan from May/credited in June, but, even after the random credit of $5.00 in October, still owes me $4.14 for overcharges on taxes and fees.  Am I wrong about that?

Thanks for your help!

Labels (1)
Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

Could it be the fees are per day based and months vary?

...Just another VZW customer...trying to offer some assistance...
Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?
Sr. Member

I to don't understand how they do this from month to month on taxes and fees. You can bet that there are a lot of people that don't even question this .I just wonder how much money they are making in a year from people that don't even notice this.

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

@jav6: That's a really good question.  I thought about that, too, but the amounts don't add up, especially since these months all vary by one day only.  Even if the charges for all the 30- or 31-day months were the same (and they are not), the charges are between 58% and 68% higher for just one day more.  That doesn't make any sense, either.

For example, the months of April, June and September each have 30 days, but the charges are $3.23/$2.84, $1.87/$1.94, and $3.25/$2.84, respectively, and for the other months, all of which have 31 days, May, July, August and October, there is similar variation: $1.87/$1.94, $3.25/$2.84, $1.89/$1.94, and $3.27/$2.84, respectively.  There is just no rhyme or reason to it.

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

@kathy65793: I was thinking the same thing: I wonder if they add these small amounts to all of the subscribers' bills and, even though they seem like small amounts individually, I'd be willing to bet that they add up to millions each month by volume.

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

I was able to find a calculator on VZW website that attempts to explain the charges.  It's called the "Taxes and Surcharges Estimator."  The tool explains that

"Taxes, Governmental Surcharges and Fees include sales, excise and other taxes and governmental surcharges and fees that we are required by law to bill to customers. These taxes, surcharges and fees may change from time to time without notice.

Verizon Wireless surcharges include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges. They may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they are not taxes. The amounts and what they pay for may change.

Our Tax and Surcharge Estimator lets you view an estimate of the taxes and surcharges you will be assessed, depending on the type of device you will be using and your Service Address, which is your primary place of residence. This estimate may differ from what appears on your bill because some taxes and surcharges apply to only a portion of your monthly charges, depending on your plan, features and device. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will use your billing address as the Service Address for all of your lines of services.  If that is not correct (for example, one of your lines of service is used by a child who is away at college), you can correct the Service Address for any of your lines from the Change Billing Address page within My Verizon."

You put in your exact address and zip code, because the taxes are calculated by zip code, and select the device, and it returns the estimated taxes.

For just my cell phone, the calculator returns:

Step 3: Results Taxes and Surcharge Estimates

Verizon Wireless Surcharges
Administrative Charge$1.23
Regulatory Charge$0.21
Fed Universal Service Charge4.8200%
Taxes, Governmental Surcharges and Fees (% based)
NJ State Sales Tax
Taxes, Governmental Surcharges and Fees (Monthly Fixed Amount)
NJ 911 System/Emerg. Resp. Fee

For the router, the calculator returns:

Step 3: Results Taxes and Surcharge Estimates

Verizon Wireless Surcharges
Administrative Charge$0.06
Regulatory Charge$0.02

So, my bill is $100 every month, and that makes this calculation easy.  For the cell phone, it looks like I should be paying ($1.23 + $0.21) + ($20.00 x 4.82%) + $0.90 = $3.30; for the router a flat rate of ($0.06 + $0.02) = $0.08; and for the plan ($60.00 x 6.875% NJ Sales Tax) = $4.13.  All of this combined should be $7.43 per month, yet I have never been charged more than $6.11.  It still doesn't add up.

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?
Customer Support

ROSSCH82 Making sure you understand your billing is important. We understand that understanding the taxes and surcharges on your bill can be tricky sometimes. I'm curious have you used our taxes and surcharge estimator? Please use the link provided, and let us know if this helps.


Follow us on Twitter @VZWSupport

If my response answered your question please click the *Correct Answer* button under my response. This ensures others can benefit from our conversation. Thanks in advance for your help with this!

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

@VZW Customer Support: Please read the whole thread.  My last post showed the results of the calculator, and the information did not help at all.  You really have to make this easier for people.  If you provide a calculator, the results should match exactly what's on my bill.  If they do not, something is wrong.

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

Generally the taxes and regulatory fees change slightly every quarter, but even your listing looks odd to me. One thing I wonder is if you are on autopay or not. The plan looks like the New Verizon Unlimited Plan but it doesn't appear they are applying the $5 discount correctly each month. This discount changes the Account/Plan charges from $65 to $60 on the bill.

I'm most definitely NOT a VZW employee. If a post answered your question, please mark it as the answer.

Re: Taxes and fees vary month to month, even though charges don't?

@Ann154: Yes, you are correct.  I am on the New Verizon Unlimited Plan and on AutoPay, but they are not applying the discount correctly.  That's one piece of the puzzle.  The other, as you mentioned, is that there is some variability with regard to the charges.


According to, the Federal Universal Service Fund Fee is something that Verizon is charged by the government and passes along to us.  The amount adjusts quarterly, in accordance with the balance remaining in the fund at that time.  So, variability is allowed for this item, yes, but only once a quarter, and that doesn't explain the month-to-month variability within quarterly billing as I have seen.  As a comparison point, T-Mobile's charge for the same item in the May-June billing period was $2.84, which is the same as what VZW charged me in total, so that seems in line.  Note: T-Mobile breaks it out on their bills as Federal Universal Service Fund $0.13 and Regulatory Programs & Telco Recovery Fee $2.71, which I think is more transparent to the consumer.  If VZW did that, it might make me feel a bit better about their charges.  See example below:


Also note that VZW bills a "Regulatory Charge," which is misleading because it sounds official and like it is required, but it is not.  The first part of this item is VZW's recovery from us of its costs of compliance with federal, state and local regulations.  The second part of that item is what it costs VZW to cover local number portability, government programs (like free cell phones for the elderly and handicapped, etc.) and charges other carriers charge VZW for the completion of calls made on their networks.  It does not match the amount that is shown on a T-Mobile bill, so that makes me question how it is being charged to us.


State taxes, in my case NJ, are set and remain the same quarter over quarter, month over month, unless the rate for the whole state changes.  In NJ, the state tax rate of 6.875% came into effect last October 1st, so the rate has remained the same over the billing periods shown above.  There is no reasonable explanation for variability there.


911/Emergency Response Fees are collected to help local government pay for fire and rescue services.  The fee VZW charges me is $0.90 per bill period.


Administrative charges, which are similar to the Regulatory charges listed above in that both are made to seem like they are required, but are not, are also mostly fees that cover costs paid to other carriers when talking to someone on their networks.  AT&T counts as part of its Administrative Fees cell site rental fees and maintenance.  I suspect that VZW is bundling some, but not all similar charges into one surcharge, but not listing them out separately, as AT&T does.  Again, it would be nice if VZW were more transparent about these charges.  See example below.

Gross receipts charges may also be collected (AT&T does this, as shown in the example above), and these are charges imposed by some states, counties and cities on the VZW's total revenue.  Yes, that's right - this is another fee that VZW passes along to us.  This is not an income tax, but a surcharge on the revenue, which is probably why VZW justifies charging it to us.


This is all good information to have, but only two pieces actually helped me.  The others illustrate just how differently the carriers treat their wireless customers.


Credit for the images goes to Money Magazine.