Manassas Park wants own cell-phone tax

MANASSAS PARK — Manassas Park Mayor William Treuting dutifully pays a $3 tax charged every month on his cellular phone bill from Cingular.

But there’s a problem. The cell phone tax is for Prince William County, not Manassas Park.

“They wouldn’t believe the mayor would live in the city,” Treuting said.

Because Manassas Park shares a ZIP code with the surrounding county, residents often find themselves charged for the county’s tax. Now the city wants to charge a cell phone tax of its own.

If passed in its present form, Manassas Park’s budget would provide for a tax of up to $3 per month for every cell phone in the city. After $63,000 in revenue the first year, the city is hoping to raise up to $75,000 every year.

Lisa Idee, a spokeswoman for Sprint PCS, said the company will be hard pressed trying to differentiate who in the 20111 ZIP code is a Manassas Park resident and who is not.

“It’s difficult for us to apply taxes when we don’t have a screening mechanism in place,” she said.

With the company’s software only able to sort customers by ZIP code, information on Manassas Park residents would have to be entered into the system manually.

“We don’t want our customers taxed unjustly,” Idee said.

When told of what Idee said, City Manager David Reynal said that Sprint’s worries are not the city’s.

“We need to inform the companies that we’ve passed a tax. Under state law, that’s all we have to do,” he said.

In contrast to Sprint, Verizon should have little trouble collecting the tax, according to John Johnson, a company spokesman.

Verizon, he said, is already going into the system manually when Manassas Park residents complain about being charged the county’s tax.

“It’s not an issue for us,” he said.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703)368-3101, Ext. 119.

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