Move Your Cell Phone To Nevada For Tax Purposes

If you have Verizon, your cell phone might have an address independent of your billing address. In fact, you might be able to move your phone anywhere you like, according to our tipster. Our tipster discovered the loophole after Verizon randomly started charging him Pennsylvania tax…when he actually lived in Colorado:

Apparently, Verizon ties 3 addresses to your account which can all be different. There’s your BILLING address, YOUR address and your CELLPHONE’S address. The tax rate is tied to where your CELLPHONE resides which can be completely arbitrary for all they care.

Well, my previous internet search also revealed that Nevada (1.14%) had the lowest tax rate of all the states. So I arbitrarily decided that my cellphone was going to live in Nevada. Not hiding my shadiness, I asked the cheery CSR if I could change my cellphone’s address to someplace in Nevada instead of Colorado. “As long as it’s a valid address”, he said. One more internet search quickly revealed a valid Nevada address, some random electronics store in Elko. And just like that, my cellphone had a new home and taxing entity.

On further consideration, I realized it would have been more fun to ironically use the address for a Verizon Wireless store located in the Silver State, but oh well, maybe next time I upgrade.

Interesting stuff. Probably illegal. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: itjournalist)

Comments

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  1. Probably illegal, but why have 3 addresses?? I understand the billing and the your (current I would be assuming) address, but why the 3rd?

    Might as well take advantage of their loophole…

  2. pronell says:

    Probably illegal?

    Seriously, couldn’t you guys hire a lawyer to go over this stuff, rather than post a tip and append a pathetic disclaimer like that?

    I’ve seen it more than a few times, and it always gives me pause. If you think it might be illegal… don’t post it as a tip until you can confirm its illegality.

    I mention this now because I can’t fathom HOW it could be illegal. If they’re going to arbitrarily say that your cell phone must have an address, and that it needn’t have any relation to where you or your phone will EVER BE, then how can it be illegal?

    Is it fraudulent to claim that your cellphone will never be in Pennsylvania as opposed to Nevada? Will the state of Pennsylvania sue you for lost tax revenue?

    No. No, they won’t.

    Am I telling you it’s legal? Nope. I just can’t fathom why it would be illegal, and if there’s any even remote chance that it is…

    Eh, I’m rambling. Just, please, don’t post tips that you think might be illegal, even if it’s a slow day. Find out. Then you can post and say “This is illegal, even if you won’t be prosecuted.” Or, “our lawyers say this is questionable.”

    God, I hate arbitrary disclaimers.

  3. Michael Bauser says:

    I’m guessing the “3 addresses” feature is meant for family and/or business plans where the account might include people who don’t live with the account-holder.

  4. Dont Know Me? You Are Me. says:

    I think that Nevada, and especially Elko, should start a marketing campaign to have everyone switch their “cellphone address”, reducing the tax burden for consumers and boosting revenue for the local and state gov’ts.

  5. andreadickson says:

    Yeah, you guys, I can’t believe that you can’t afford lawyers to help you vet every single tip that comes in via email. Really. Maybe you should hire a full-time lawyer. Because you’re here to provide solid legal advice, aren’t you? This is where I come when I need answers to my pressing legal questions.

    Great loophole. My boyfriend and I just switched ours! Get it while the gettin’s good!

  6. andreadickson says:

    @knave77:

    “What lives in Nevada is taxed in Nevada?”

  7. marike says:

    I have an Oregon phone number and I am billed Oregon taxes even though I’ve lived in Ohio, Illinois and now Hawaii.

    My husband and I have the same plans – his with an Illinois number – but I pay like $8 less because my taxes are less.

    It’s not because I’m scamming or anything, I just dont want to change my number.

  8. suckonthat says:

    For those wondering why phones need three addresses, I would bet that mine does due to the following: the address for the phone (which corresponds to the area code) where I first got the number, my “home” address, and my billing address (which is different from my home because I am in graduate school and not at a permanent address).

  9. tmobcsr says:

    T-Mob also maintains three addresses for a single MSISDN. Billing address, E911 address, and PPU address. The latter of the three is in question here. Primary place of use. That’s the address taxes are calculated in. Pretty sure it’s the same deal at VZW.

  10. beachpilot says:

    pronell: Are you serious? This is a BLOG. Any action you take based on what you read on a blog is done at your own risk.

  11. facted says:

    Before I go think about going through with this, does anyone know what the monetary difference would be between say NY and Nevada? Are we talking $1 or $10 a month?

  12. Meg Marco says:

    Lawyers, hahahaha. Good one.

  13. Helvetian says:

    The only problem is marketing. Most carriers target market specific offers, specials and enhancements based off your “market.” And the market is usually determined by the cellphone address. The other problem is that some carriers will cancel or write you, if there is too much roaming and/or out of market usage. I think Cingular does this.

  14. LTS! says:

    Regardless of the legality of this. A website that purports to look out for consumers should have at least the wherewithal to look into whether or not they are doing their readers a disservice by posting information such as this.

    If you want to pass this off as “people should research this themselves” then what’s the point of this post? Is it to tell people go do our work for us because we’ve passed on some guys idea and we don’t know if it’s valid or not, please let us know, thank you.

    Is it to let the guy brag that he did this?

    Is there a particular reason that you don’t look into the legality of such things?

    Or is the uber intelligent remark “Lawyers, hahahaha. Good one.” the witty repartee we should expect here. I suppose I should just reclassify The Consumerist from potentially useful website to “a nice place for jokes.”

    I wonder what lawsuits this opens up the parent company to just by encouraging potentially illegal behavior. It’s all fun and games until the lawyers get involved.

    There is a point in time where you cross from weekend hobbyist into responsible entity. I wonder where you fit, I’ll bet appearing on major news shows discussing consumer rights, etc. will begin to place you in the latter.

  15. gorckat says:

    If you want to pass this off as “people should research this themselves” then what’s the point of this post?

    I say the same thing to Fantasy Football sites all the time :p

    If they themselves don’t know, post it for us to look into, since I gather most consumers have no idea such a thing exists. If they later confirm it’s il/legality, they have the ability to update the post.

    If nothing else, it’s interesting.

  16. natsirt says:

    Sprint does the same thing. I moved to Illinois in August from Washingston state. Sprint took 2 months to correctly change my billing address and then a couple months ago I saw that I was paying WA state taxes.

  17. theinsanefurry says:

    Is that a pic from the NTS? It the first time I’ve seen that house in color.

  18. facted says:

    @Helvetian: As for the “roaming” off network, that happens even if your phone is in the correct area code. That really applies more towards people who live pretty far out of the way and unfortunately don’t have cell phone coverage from their provider in their area. Shouldn’t be a problem if you choose to set up your phone in Nevada.

  19. Ben Popken says:

    @pronell: We are a blog. Go read the New York Times. LTS, you too. Guess what, we could get 10 lawyers and they would all disagree with each other. Meghann said “Probably illegal” facetiously. The Verizon rep let him do it without fuss or muss.

  20. Margo says:

    guys – and girls,

    i just had a predicament with Cingular. i used to live in NY and moved to NJ in 2005. so i just found out that cingular changed only my billing address – not the service coverage address. therefore, after some deliberations on the phone, i got $250 credit for all the funky fees and surcharges from NY that do not exist in NJ.. the bottom line – having different billing and service coverage addresses is perfectly legal. also, may this be a reminder to ALL people to check their recent phone bills in case they have ever moved since the inception of service.

    - Margo

  21. Treved says:

    I moved from NY years ago, but they continued to bill me NY taxes instead of CA taxes.

    Thanks to this post, though, my cellphone now lives in Imlay Nevada! Yay Consumerist!

  22. @pronell: Those were my thoughts exactly. We still love you though Meghann.

    I also have a peeve with people stating that something might be illegal but this is usually not their fault. I blame this on the way we are taught in our culture to fear and assume that something is illegal just because it sounds like somebody might MAKE it illegal at some point in time. I also blame most of this re-education campaign on the RIAA for teaching us to believe that a civil infraction is the same thing as breaking the law. So I dont really blame Meghann for her misconception.

  23. AcilletaM says:

    So we’re not living in Cambodia anymore? I’ve been taking language classes and everything…

  24. MrMopar says:

    I myself work for Verizon Wireless as a customer service rep, so I can confirm that changing your CELLPHONE address is perfectly legal and a viable option.

    The three addresses exist to satisfy different purposed, and can indeed be different addresses. The BILLING address is just that – for mailing a bill if you still get one via the US Postal Service. YOUR address can be different for FamilyShare plans, because different family members can have a different address – such as school or a separate apartment. Verizon still wants to send marketing offers and other notices, so that’s why they’ll keep track of the home addresses. Lastly, the CELLPHONE address is an address which would be the primary location of the most usage. This can be different, because people might want that address to reflect their workplace in the case that they do not use the cell phone while at home.

    It is perfectly legit for the CELLPHONE address to be in a different state, because the taxes should be collected from an area of the most usage so that the tax revenue goes into building communications infrastructure in that location. If you have a HOME address in one state, and commute to work in another state where you use your cellphone the most, it makes perfect sense that tax revenue paid to the state where your home is at might be wasted revenue on account that you don’t really use your cellphone in that state.

    This legal change of address does mean that you’re depriving a state of legitimate tax revenue, but that’s a personal choice. I myself am of the opinion that too many taxes are already levied on damn near everything, and I don’t necessarily think that my home state is putting that tax revenue to good use. I don’t see why I would then volunteer to give them more tax revenue if I could avoid it, so I made the cellphone tax change a while back. I recommend the change for everyone who lives in any other state than Nevada.