YOUR MONEY-The Apple Tax: America's costly obsession

Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:41pm EST
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By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK Dec 10 (Reuters) - With the "fiscal cliff" looming, taxpayers are wringing their hands about all sorts of things. Income taxes might rise, dividends might get walloped, lifetime gift-tax exemptions might get slashed.

But when it comes to immediate impact on their wallets, maybe they should be thinking about something else entirely: The Apple tax.

Americans are shelling out big bucks annually to outfit the entire household with Apple products. And they are spending hundreds - if not thousands of dollars - more each year for the unexpected Apple "taxes" -- add-ons that lock them into the Apple system: iTunes downloads for music, movies and games, along with subscriptions and accessories.

Then there are the replacement costs for lost or broken equipment. For a family with multiple children, each with their own technological needs, the total annual bill can get downright ugly -- like going over a familial "fiscal cliff."

Just ask Sam Martorana. A human-resources specialist for the airline WestJet, Martorana's Vancouver household consists of three people and no less than nine Apple products. Between himself, husband Ron, and stepson Evan, they own three MacBooks, two iPhones, two iPads, and two iPods.

"Oh my God, do I have to total it all up?" asks Martorana, 40. "It's so depressing. I'd say we spent at least $5,000 on all that stuff, including $700 in the past year alone. I totally have a weakness. I fell in love, and that was it."

Martorana is hardly alone in forking over so much money to the tech juggernaut. In 2011, the average amount U.S. households spent on Apple products was $444, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty.   Continued...