Did you know that if you’re an American you’re still paying a tax on every phone call you make that was originally setup to pay for the Spanish-American War? Some 108 years after the war ended that tax is still present on your phone bill listed as a 3% “federal excise tax” that raises more than a few bucks for the government each year in addition to a quite a few lawsuits:
“Government officials are holding closely guarded discussions on how to best handle the repayment process as well as mitigate the impact of about $60 billion in potential refunds and lost federal revenues over the next five years,” the Journal said.
The planned end of the tax follows more than a half dozen court rulings in recent years that the government is misapplying the tax. The courts have ordered refunds to companies that sued over the charges.
Rather than continue to fight similar pending lawsuits, the Treasury has decided to concede defeat and discontinue the tax, the report said, citing government officials.
Talk of ending the tax has been going on for a couple of years now, but it looks like it’s starting to garner some attention in Washington once again. Here’s a bit more info from a June 2005 USA Today article about it:
Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., recently introduced legislation in the House — supported by 98 co-sponsors — aimed at repealing the tax, which was imposed in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War. The war was over in six months, but the tax stayed.
The general excise tax has so far cost consumers about $300 billion, says the Congressional Research Service. The entire Spanish-American War cost only about $6 billion, adjusted for inflation.
Of course whatever they come up to replace it with might end up being even worse…