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.

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  1. identicon
    telco squirrel, 1 Aug 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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