Crosby Column: $600-Plus Refund for Errant 'Simplified Municipal Tax' Charge

Crosby Column: $600-Plus Refund for Errant ‘Simplified Municipal Tax’ Charge


Nice column by Denise Crosby in today’s (April 23, 2014) Beacon-News about Kane County residents who have been wrongly charged a “Simplified Municipal Tax” on their phone bills.

The problem isn’t widespread, according to Verizon and spokespersons from other companies, but you might want to check your phone bill if you live outside the borders of a municipality.

Apparently, municipalities can charge 5 percent of your phone bill to pay for infrastructure and maintenance. The phone company adds the charge to your bill and then disburses the money to the municipal government.

The thing is, billing isn’t an exact science. It’s often organized by zip code, so if you live in an unincorporated area, you could be wrongly charged the tax.

That was the case with John Fenlaciki, a resident of Fox River Estates in St. Charles Township, who noticed the tax on his Verizon bill and asked about it, Crosby reports. Fenlaciki pushed and found out that he had been wrongly charged since 2005. The result: an apology from the phone company and a $639.87 refund for the “oops.”

In addition to Fenlaciki, credit Chuck Ingersoll of the River Bend Community Group, who asked around and discovered that the errant charge wasn’t an isolated case, and to Mark Vankerkoff, the director of facilities, development and environmental resources at Kane County, who looked into the issue on behalf of unincorporated residents after Chuck told him what was going on.

A sidebar is that municipalities can, if they choose, exempt seniors from the tax — kind of like a homeowners property-tax exemption for seniors. If that were to take place as a result of Fenlaciki’s follow-up and Ingersoll’s investigation and Crosby’s column, what a nice thing that would be.


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