Friday, January 19, 2007
The federal telephone excise tax began with long distance calls under the Spanish War Act of 1898; it was applied to local calls shortly before the US entered World War II. The War Resisters League estimates that in 1972, perhaps one-half million people resisted the US war in Vietnam/Southeast Asia by refusing to pay the federal telephone tax. In 1990, the tax was set at 3%; phone companies collect the tax for the IRS and the money is allocated as general revenue for discretionary spending. According to IRS figures, from 1995 through 2001, the tax brought in over $34 billion to the US Treasury, including a record $5.7 billion in 2001 alone.
According to the IRS' "Telephone Tax Refund Questions and Answers" page, the IRS "will refund to you the taxes on long-distance or bundled service billed to you for the period after Feb. 28, 2003 and before Aug. 1, 2006" plus interest. To get this money you have to request it when you file your 2006 tax returns. Sweethearts that they are, "The IRS is making it easier for individual taxpayers by offering a standard refund amount between $30 and $60, so that these taxpayers don’t need to gather old phone bills."
The tax change does not apply to local telephone service. So, if you're opposed to the US war in Iraq and against funding the US war machine in general then now is a good time to consider telephone war tax resistance. Check out Hang Up On War! which is sponsored by the Iraq Pledge of Resistance network, which coordinated nonviolent civil disobedience actions to oppose the war; the War Resisters League, which has supported war tax resisters at all levels since World War II; and the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, a network of organizations that provide resources, information, and support for war tax resisters.
- War Tax Resistance: An Idea Whose Time Has Come . . . Again? (CommonDreams.org April 12, 2002)
- If You Work for Peace, Stop Paying for War (CommonDreams.org March 21, 2003)
- Telephone Excise Tax Refund (IRS)