Taxpayers are due a onetime federal excise tax refund credit of $30 to $60 – or possibly even more – on their 2006 federal returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The refund is intended to compensate people who have been charged an excise tax on their phone bills.
For years, phone companies charged the excise tax on toll calls, based on the distance and the time spent on the call. But when they went to flat-fee phone services, they continued to levy the tax.
Numerous challenges to the tax in federal courts argued that, since flat-fee service has nothing to do with the distance and length of time of a phone call, the excise tax is no longer valid – a point the IRS now concedes.
The agency has told phone companies to cease assessing the tax as of Aug. 30, 2006, and give taxpayers a onetime shot at restitution. If you file as a single taxpayer, you can claim a $30 credit on line 71 of IRS Form 1040. Married couples with no children can ask for a $40 refund. Those with one child can claim $50; those with two, $60.
But taxpayers who have all their phone bills between March 1, 2003, and July 31, 2006, can add up the actual taxes as they appear on the bills and claim the total as the credit. If you do that, though, you'll have to use a different form (8913) and attach it to your return.
Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 30 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing finance industry publications. Copyright 2007, United Feature Syndicate, Inc. United Feature Syndicate