Actually, Now IRS Wants Congress To Repeal Tax On Work-Provided Mobile Phone

from the wow,-public-response-worked dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about how the IRS was exploring how to enforce an old law that required people whose mobile phones were paid by their employers to pay taxes on the phone service as a "fringe benefit." That got quite an uproar, and it appears the IRS is now saying that it agrees it's a really stupid idea and hopes that Congress will repeal that old law. Of course, it's not clear why it was even explored late last week as a possibility if the administration is so against the idea.


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  1.  
    identicon
    John, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:02pm

    Ridiculous

    The IRS should have agreed from the very beginning because this is a very ridiculous law! If the employer is paying for the phone then the phone is soley being used to benefit the employer not the employee.
    You can get some good updates to the tech world on http://www.oshishtech.com

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:15pm

    "it's not clear why it was even explored late last week as a possibility if the administration is so against the idea."

    The people doing the exploring and the people doing the policy making aren't always the same people. How many people at the IRS? How many people in the administration? Do you really think it is possible for everyone one of them to have exactly the same plan?

    It depends on the sources - who is the source for the first report, and who is the source for the second report? I suspect they don't even know each other.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:18pm

    "Of course, it's not clear why it was even explored late last week as a possibility if the administration is so against the idea."

    It is the IRS's job to enforce the laws that congress tells it to enforce. However, it's Congresses job not to pass stupid laws like this. If Congress does pass a stupid law then blame congress, not the IRS. I'm not saying I agree with this law, just that it's congress to blame for passing it.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Not enforced for twenty years .....

    All of this stems from a 1989 law, which mandated that workers who use company-provided cell phones for personal calls count the value of those calls--i.e. that portion of the bill--as income, and then pay taxes on that income. However, employers and their employees have long ignored the rule.

     

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  5.  
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    Zubin Madon (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 8:13pm

    "Of course, it's not clear why it was even explored late last week as a possibility if the administration is so against the idea."

    I would rather most government institutions evaluate ideas on their merits, rather then dismissing them based on a single belief. The investigation validates the dismissal.

     

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  6.  
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    Josh Anyan, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 8:27pm

    The Reasonable Answer

    I read in another article about this same issue that the IRS wasn't investigating to get more tax money, but to investigate the situation more since everyone has been ignoring this law (including the IRS) and see if it made sense to push for the law to be repealed.
    For once our government is proactive about repealing unneeded laws.

     

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  7.  
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    iyogi (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 8:35pm

    RE:

    We need to modernize the laws to reflect the reality that cell phones, BlackBerrys and text messaging are an everyday extension of the workplace and are here to stay," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "Cell phones are no longer executive perks or luxury items, and our tax code cannot treat them that way anymore.

     

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  8.  
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    taoareyou, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 9:35pm

    Do the math

    Most business phones are on unlimited plans or shared plans that have an enormous amount of packaged minutes. Attempting to even assign a value to calls would not be a standardized process. If I make 1 hour of personal calls on my AT&T unlimited call plan, what percentage of the bill does that amount to? 10%? What if I make 20 hours of calls? The bill is the same.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 4:52am

    I still remember when my boss would bring lists of long-distance calls around and anyone who couldn't justify a particular call as business-related had to pony up, even if it was ten cents. My boss rarely hit me up since I made so many calls to vendors and contractors than any personal calls I made got lost in the shuffle.

    I once worked for a company that gave each employee a PIN number for making long-distance calls. the day I started my manager gave me hers since the PINs came from corporate and took several weeks to assign them. I used her PIN the ENTIRE time I worked there and she never once asked me about any calls I made, and since she was a manager nobody was going to question any of her calls.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 5:31am

    Investigation my butt. They floated a trial balloon and didn't like the response.

    Is it any surprise they are looking for money?

     

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  11.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    Re: Ridiculous

    The IRS should have just tried to require people whose office phone were paid by their employers to pay taxes on the phone service as a "fringe benefit". /sarcasm

     

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  12.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    IRS and taxing cell phones

    My understanding from the various sites is that the IRS position was reported incorrectly.
    Are we saying professional journalists are often wrong, but bloggers are "often wrong but never in doubt?"
    Personally, I buy the "reported the IRS position incorrectly" version. Nothing against bloggers (I love the TechDirt blog, in spite of the obsession with leisure time problems (ie, the entertainment industry) - read, relatively unimportant stuff. to the detriment of things that are actually important), but hey, it isn't just professional journalists that are human - live with it, bloggers!

     

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  13.  
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    R. Adams, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 10:39pm

    Tax on company supplied cell phones

    Leave it to the House to come up with a Law such as this one. I wonder if they pay taxes on all their perks, and under the table pay-offs. Right!!!

    Does the Speaker of the House pay taxes for the Government Airplane she uses?

     

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