You Are Paying A Federal Tax You Dont Have To, The Government Knows It, Has Said So Repeatedly, Yet Still Collects It
Cellphone ruling could mean billions in tax refunds
Phone customers are due $9 billion in tax refunds and a 3% cut in wireless phone and long-distance bills, according to a series of federal court decisions.
But the federal government continues to collect the tax and requires so much paperwork for refunds that only big corporations are likely to benefit.
On Friday, a court in Washington, D.C., became the third federal appeals court since May to void the tax. Two other federal appeals courts, covering seven states, have ruled the tax unlawful, and cases are pending elsewhere in the nation's 13 appeals courts. In all, nine federal courts have ruled that a 3% federal tax doesn't apply to phone calls that are priced only by how long a person talks — not by how far the call travels.
That means cellular phones, Internet phone service and about one-third of long distance calls would be exempt from the tax. The wireless industry estimates that consumers would save about $4.5 billion a year. Taxpayers also would be due three years of refunds — about $9 billion.
The cellphone industry wants the tax removed immediately from bills and the money refunded. "Our customers shouldn't be paying a tax that courts have repeatedly found illegal," says Steve Largent, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association and a former Republican congressman...
"It sounds absurd, but the law is written so that the government can keep collecting a tax even though it's been ruled unlawful," says Hank Levine, a lawyer representing businesses that challenged the tax. Federal law makes it nearly impossible to get an injunction to stop the government from collecting a tax, he says.