Good Luck Getting That Phone Excise Tax Back

from the death-and-taxes dept

A few months back, the Treasury Department finally caught wind that the Spanish-American War had ended 108 years ago, so perhaps it would be a good idea to repeal the excise tax on long-distance phone calls orginally enacted to help pay for it. The move was lauded by consumer groups, mobile operators and businesses, particularly because people would be able to claim back the last three years' worth of the tax they'd paid. But -- surprise, surprise -- businesses are finding out claiming the refunds is far from easy. For the general public, the IRS is expected to set an amount people can claim back without any documentation, but businesses must go back and look at old phone bills, then calculate what tax they paid, something made even more complicated by the structure of the tax, which was dependent on the length and distance of each call. For small businesses, the headache can be getting their hands on the old bills, with many providers charging for duplicate copies. For larger businesses, the sheer monumentality of the task is staggering for companies with thousands of and employees in multiple locations, and tons of phone lines from multiple providers. Of course, you might think that since courts ruled on multiple occasions that the IRS shouldn't have imposed the tax in the first place, they might accept some measure of responsibility in the matter. Then again, it is the IRS.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    puffnstuff, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 10:01am

    Crossing...

    I'm not so sure you want to be the one to annoy the IRS.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 10:17am

    ATT and other phone providers should have these records. They should charge 10 bucks and send you a summary of taxes paid. But like pufnstuff said you dont want to "be the one to annoy the IRS", so they probably wont do it

     

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  3.  
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    Dosquatch, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 10:30am

    Re:

    ATT and other phone providers should have these records.

    Of course they do, and getting this information would be as easy as running a query across their billing database. The investment of time (a couple hours, MAX) to write the query would be a wise investment considering how much interest there would be from businesses in obtaining their usage results, even at ten times your proposed fee.

    As far as annoying the IRS, I figure they just stay that way. It's the "drawing attention to yourself" part that's the problem.

     

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  4.  
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    Kerry, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 10:41am

    taxes

    get rid of the IRS
    they suck anyhow
    http://www.fairtax.org/

     

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  5.  
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    economics 101, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:00am

    Fair Tax is for tards and the rich 1%

    The fair tax is B.S. for 2 reasons:
    1)The "fair tax" is still going to need to be enforced and accounted for, there will still be an I.R.S. Eventually, corrupt congressmen will pass loopholes for the "fair tax" like we have now. No change there.
    2)Simple logic. If the US gov't budget remains constant, then the fair tax takes the same amount of money from the people...just more from different people. The fair tax tries to take more from the middle and lower classes and less from the 1% of 1% who make 50% of the country's money.

    You "fair tax" retards fail to bring up that the progressive tax is reflective of the country's GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT. The tax is taxing the TOTAL amount of money the US is taking in, just fine.

    If you really want to see a reduction in the size of the I.R.S., delete all loopholes. No exceptions. Pay your damn taxes and quit paying CPA's, Tax Lawyers, and IRS specialists because rich people are cheap.

     

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  6.  
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    Celes, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:00am

    A staggering task?

    I'm not sure that retrieving these phone bills is going to be such a monumental task for businesses. Most smaller companies keep their invoices filed by vendor, and sometimes by year. It should be pretty easy to just pull everything out of the folders for the phone companies. For larger companies, of course, it may be more involved, but invoices are likely to be filed similarly (or perhaps by location and then by vendor), and many companies outsource their document storage to other companies like Iron Mountain, who are paid to know exactly where to find the bills in question (as long as the company has properly labeled the box, of course).

    That said, it seems that calculating the tax paid will be a much bigger challenge, unless your phone company actually breaks it down on your bill for you.

    But the last sentences of the post confuse me.
    Of course, you might think that since courts ruled on multiple occasions that the IRS shouldn't have imposed the tax in the first place, they might accept some measure of responsibility in the matter. Then again, it is the IRS.

    Responsibility for the tax, yes, which they are doing by allowing a credit for the past three years' worth of tax paid. Granted, three years does not nearly cover the amount of tax that should be credited, but if companies are balking at having to go through three years' worth of records, 100 years might just be too much to ask.

    But are you implying that companies should not be required to furnish proof during an audit of what they paid? (And an audit is the only time proof would actually be required; it is not sent in with the tax return). We're already talking about how companies take shady measures to reduce the amount of income tax they pay. If there is not at least the threat of having to provide proof, I'm sure companies looking for a tax reduction will be all over that new line on their 1120.

     

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  7.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:13am

    It's simple...

    Tax can be as simple as 10% accross the board.

    Whether you're rich, poor, dependent,independent, married, single, big business, or small business.

    A flat tax of 10% is the only solution; no loopholes, no accountants, no crap. It will streamline our tax system and get rid of all needless expenses and confusion.

    Unfortunately, the system needs a system to exist and simple, effective solutions are not what it is looking for. The system survives on confusion, beauracracy, doubletalk, and deceit.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:16am

    Re: It's simple...

    "Tax can be as simple as 10% accross the board."

    Noone would vote for it. Do you know how many JOBS would be lost if we implented something like that? The economy needs jobs, even including government jobs!

    /sarcasm

    Besides, it woudlnt be 10%. It would be closer to 70%.

     

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  9.  
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    Jeremy, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:34am

    Seriously... not the flat tax thing again

    I'm all for modernizing the IRS and simplifying our tax code but a flat tax? Has anyone who mentioned a flat tax actually look at what the economic impact on the poorest segments of the population would be.

    I'm not going to go into details because there are a million sites that will do a better job but it essentially boils down to one thing. Taking 10% of a minimum wage families income will have a significant impact on their quality of life, yes it may only be $50/month but that is huge. 10% of Brad Pitt's income will have no impact on his quality of life. Sorry Brad but it's true.

     

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  10.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: It's simple...

    You are entitled to your opinion...

    I for one would vote along with everyone in my office ~20 people. Perhaps all the accountants, IRS workers, and beauracrats wouldn't vote.

    In any case, this has never even been considered because, as I've stated, the system needs the system in order to exist. Which of those beauracrats would be the first to commit suicide?

     

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  11.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:46am

    Re: Seriously... not the flat tax thing again

    Blah, blah, blah...

    10% is 10% no matter how you turn it. Every U.S. citizen will take part. It is fair and impartial. As you state, if $50 a month out of a $500/month income is too much, then it's clear that the tax is not the problem but rather the income.

    Who can live off of $500.00 a month? They have far bigger problems than paying their tax. Are you suggesting that they not pay tax because of their economic status? What entiles them to a free ride on backs of those who aren't such entitled? Besides, who entitles them and what are the criteria for such entitlement?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: It's simple...

    "You are entitled to your opinion... "

    you apparently missed my /sarcasm tag.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Ricky D, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Seriously... not the flat tax thing again

    Wow, does anyone even know what deductions are? Loopholes? Really? The richer you are the more your rate is. These "loopholes" are breaks given when a "rich" person bothers to do something that qualifies for a "loophole" That means they have to invest, spend or otherise give away money. Amazing the concept..Bill gates gets a loophole deduction for his $100 million donated to cure aids. and this is somehow a political football. Do your homework, then try to justify closing so called loopholes that enourage moeny to be spent instead of hidden... its called an economy. I'm not welathy and even I can grasp that concept. No wait..the government is a much better place to invest our money right?

     

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  14.  
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    elise, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Seriously... not the flat tax thing again

    Taking 10% of a minimum wage families income will have a significant impact on their quality of life, yes it may only be $50/month but that is huge.




    and the 28% the government takes out from our income now isn't detrimental? Come on! There has got to be a better way to tax, even if it's not the FairTax or Flat tax - these rich assholes should not be allowed to manipulate the system any longer because we're the ones funding everything! If you just continue to pay like the sheep that you are, NOTHING will ever change. Fight the Man Damn it!!!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously... not the flat tax thing ag

    Did I miss something?

    You are replying to me yet you are addressing another issue.

    I'm not sure where you stand. As far as deductions and such, all that is is more of the same beauracratic confusion that is crippeling us with all that is.

    These very deductions, rates, etc. of which you speak is the very same problem the flat tax corrects. The only hiding is done by accountants and the IRS. The flat rate will eliminate this nonsense.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Seriously... not the flat tax thing again

    Amen!! Elise...

    Amen!!!

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It's simple...

    Actually, I got the sarcasm part but i meant you're entitled to thinking that you won't vote for it.

     

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  18.  
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    Wire Cramped, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Seriously... not the flat tax thing again

    I agree with flat tax and yes it is possible to do. Maybe its not just 10% but it is certainly possible and yes the I.R.S. should be dismantled and a new one that handles the flat tax made with no previous employees and the top guys are voted in 1 from each state.

    In anycase I am sure there are financial people who could figure it out hell we sit around and try to figure out the aids virus and all the possible connections for flights then this little math problem cant be impossible to get done.

    Yes to flat tax and yes it would work. Now provide some sources that show why it would and or why it wouldnt and we can make up our own minds and vote right? good deal but the retrieval of the tax on the phone bill is BS the I.R.S states that everyone should keep their records for at least 3years and businesses must keep them for 5 so the info is there. one little program to plug in the duration and the where for any long distance call and the calcs to figure the tax per and it would spit out the answer in about 2.381 seconds after you said go.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    telco squirrel, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 1:51pm

    Refunds from phone company, or gov for taxes

    I decided to read the phone bills at a company I helped run in the mid 80's one afternoon for pleasure. After the reading was finished, I managed to get $4500 back from Pacific Bell, which was the local phone company.

    They had taken the junk records that came from ATT and had been using them to bill us, and the other guys had not bothered to read the entire bill and figure out the bill, line by line.

    There were equipment rentals for cables we did not have, line cards for lines that were removed long ago, and all sorts of arcane $1/month nicks that were all invalid.

    Sadly, they could only do the refund IIRC back about 5 years from when they came into existance, but the person at the time, who had been doing the same job for ATT would have gladly refunded the money back till the original order, that was in error.

    It was the phone calls, and all the other BS at the time that was the pain.

    Now days, it probably would involve talking to the Bangalore call center to get it done, and probably would be more hassle than it is worth.

    But for a large company, keeping track of all the call line items is worth it.

    Back when writable CD's first came out, ATT long lines began to offer CDrom phone bills as an option to several 3000 or 4000 page cases of paper to one other customer of mine, and several companies offered analyzers for the bills. Again profitable to weed out the errors.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Whatever he said, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 2:03pm

    Taxes are illegal

    We're screwed anyway -- Taxes aren't going anywhere. Bitch and moan all you want.

    I'm fine with taxes for my public roads, but I don't think my neighbor (who has no kids) should have to pay taxes to send my kids to school. One issue out of thousands, right?

    Fair Tax, Flat Tax, this tax, that tax -- the only way it will change is if something happens on a globally drastic scale which forces us to do something tangible, thats how they got started anyway, less than 3/4 of a century ago.

    As much as you may want the change, be carefull what you wish for.....

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 3:02pm

    You people arguing do realize that when you add all the taxes (sales tax, utilities taxes, phone taxes, so on and so forth) that most people under $100,000 pay slightly over 50% of their incomes in taxes, right?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:34pm

    Any guesses

    as to how much the safe harbor amount for individuals will be?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 2nd, 2006 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    I read that it's more around 57%

    Actually, I recall someone breaking down the taxes for $10.00 worth of income. By the time all taxes occur through the life of the $10.00 all that is left is $4.30

    Now that is putting our taxes in perspective. In addition, that explaines why I'm working my ass off and not getting anywhere. On paper, I should be pretty well off but, alas, I must earn a living not only for myself but the man as well.

     

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  24.  
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    Astral, Aug 2nd, 2006 @ 9:44am

    Flat Tax

    It is simply a fact that a flat tax disproportionatly affects poorer citizens. I'm sorry but, you can't say that peoples' pay is the problem. There will always be people that make far too little and it is simply not ok to charge them the same as those who have it all. Why is it that the rich think that they should be treated the same? Only a White Republican would make such a dumb statement. If you are lucky enough to be weathy or well off then you need to pay more into the system.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 2nd, 2006 @ 9:54am

    Re: Flat Tax

    Hmm... I've taken quite a bit of math.

    10% is 10%.

    10% of $1.00 is 10 cents.

    Please explain to me in terms of math what you mean by "disproportionate?" Where in the numbers is it unfair?

    It's simple, pure, and effective. Pleas ebe very specific in your argument. If I'm wrong, I may reconsider.

    The numbers don't lie.

     

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  26.  
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    Anon E Mouse, Aug 3rd, 2006 @ 12:17am

    Re: Taxes are illegal

    The true bottom line is this:

    If the government wasn't soo fat and bloated (in other words, if it was just what the founding fathers intended), then we would not be seeing this kind of blatent disregard for our rights.

    Taxes were made legal through subversion of the constitution while under a state of national emergency which was inacted decades ago by a former president who never repealed the state of emergency.

    The evidence of this conspiracy against the constitution is evident in all aspects of our so-called law today, and the aparent trampling of our individual rights. Do you honestly believe that a "national ID" card is to help prevent terrorism? Have we become soo blind?

    I know I am going beyond the scope of this particular blog, but honestly people... wake up and read your history... we have been royally screwed, and not only do we accept it willingly, but we also PAY them to do it to us (via the IRS, and other Mafia-Like entities)... GOD forbid we actually have a thought that this is wrong and express that in public... then we get to visit a PMITA prison for the rest of our lives as "tax protesters" or the new IN term "terrorist" or "urban combatant".

     

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  27.  
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    Colleen Lahr, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 11:20am

    ATT excise tax

    One would think it would be as easy as writing a query to extract the information out of their database but according to ATT they don't have the information. When pressed they won't even return phone calls.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Amby Whitaker, Jul 14th, 2007 @ 12:17am

    Re: Re: Taxes are illegal

    I agree. The war was 108 years ago - why are we only getting 3 years worth back? And no interest? Hah. They sure as heck make sure they get their interest and penalties when we are late.

    The entire problem is that we are afraid of them and they should be the ones afraid of us. We have no say in how they "over" spend our money and this is totally wrong. People are afraid to speak up for fear of getting shot or imprisoned - should it even be like this? If we commit a crime, we go to prison - if you commit the same crime but are part of the government, you get pardoned.

    National ID cards? Heck - they can already track you if you carry a cell phone. The government is supposed to be our manager. "We, the people" are getting screwed and thats about it. I believe things are going to have to go to the dogs before anyone ever gets up enough nerve to fight back. They are totally out of control.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Amby Whitaker, Jul 14th, 2007 @ 12:28am

    Re: Re: Flat Tax

    For people that live paycheck to paycheck 10% would force many of them to get 2nd jobs. 10% to a rich person is barely a pinch. Take Florida for example where they are raising the property taxes by as much as 50%. Many of those people are getting 2nd jobs and even selling their homes to move out of state! I'll bet the rich people aren't.

    On a 2nd note I don't believe we should even have to pay property taxes on something we own. I can understand roads, public buildings and things like that, but on property you own? No one complains about it because we all just accept it.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Amby Whitaker, Jul 14th, 2007 @ 12:44am

    Re: Taxes are illegal

    I agree - or how about like when a new stadium is built and they tax only the people living in the immediate surrounding area? sheesh. What about the people that never go to the stadium or the people that live outside the taxed area that never miss a game? The most sensible way to handle it would be to charge the people that use it - just like with the schools. Charge extra admission or raise the price of school lunches - there are realistic ways to do things.

    We as citizens should have more say in what they are doing. I would like to see a system where they have to inform us and get our votes for how they want to spend OUR money. We should be able to see the financials and what is going on. My god, its not like we don't have a way of communicating this info - there is the Internet.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Balakrishna Consulting LLP India, Dec 4th, 2013 @ 1:34am

    Interesting!! First time I am reading about IRS..Can anyone provide me the further details about IRS??Is this related to NRI Services??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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