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February 08, 2006

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Publication Date: Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cell phone decision doesn't affect Portola Valley Cell phone decision doesn't affect Portola Valley (February 08, 2006)

A judge's decision to overturn a cell phone tax in Palo Alto won't affect another local town with a tax on utility bills: Portola Valley. That's because Portola Valley doesn't tax cell-phone calls.

Portola Valley's tax does apply to calls made over land lines.

"We've never asked cell phone companies to pay the utility users tax," Town Attorney Sandy Sloan told the Almanac. "I've never felt it was appropriate, to tell the truth."

Unlike a land-line phone, a cell phone can be divorced from a geographical location. It can have a distant area code, for example, or monthly charges based on minutes used rather than the number of miles between the caller and the person called.

The city of Palo Alto sued Verizon Wireless last fall for about $2 million in back taxes the city said Verizon owed on residents' intrastate cell phone calls. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge sided with Verizon in a January 25 decision. The city of Palo Alto is seeking a new trial.

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