On July 3, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upheld the application of telephone gross receipts taxes on cellphone companies (Cities of Jefferson City and Springfield, Missouri vs. Cingular Wireless et al., case No. 7-2884). The cellphone companies claimed that they were providing "Commercial Mobile Radio Services," and that term does not appear in ordinances imposing a tax on "telephone" and "telephonic" services.
After dodging numerous procedural obstacles, the Court said that cellphones are used to make telephone calls, the cellphone companies market them for use in making telephone calls, and most users think that their cellphones are intended to be used to make telephone calls. In other words, it if looks like a telephone, walks like a telephone, and quacks like a telephone, it must be a telephone. The fact that CMRS services may be treated differently from wireline services in other regulatory areas does not mean that cellphone service is not subject to taxes on telephone services.