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, games, 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."
In 2011, the average amount US households spent on Apple products was $444, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty. That figure has been rising smartly every year. In 2010 it was $295. In 2007, it was $150.
And we might only be seeing the beginning. If Apple rolls out its own HDTV, as expected, Huberty sees annual Apple spending by households doubling, to $888 by 2015.