War Tax Refund

That war’s over — it’s time to get your tax rebate
By PURVA PATEL
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

It’s taken nearly a century, but the federal government has finally dropped part of a tax it initially levied on telephone customers to help fund the Spanish-American War.

That’s the good news.

The better news is the Internal Revenue Service expects to return $13 billion in refunds to taxpayers next year.

Known as the “federal excise tax” on phone bills, the 3 percent surcharge on long-distance and bundled service was dropped in August. Refunds will be calculated on phone bills back to March 2003.

The tax will still be assessed on local phone service.

For an explanation of the refunds, reporter Purva Patel talked to Dick Hansen, president of Technology Change Management, whose firm advises businesses on billing issues.

Q: How does one claim this refund?

A: Basically, the way you’re going to claim it is through income tax forms. You can only get the credit on the 2006 forms. So as an individual, I personally will send in my 1040, and there’s a new line on that tax return that asks “What is your credit?” and you take it off your taxes.

So if I owed $1,000 and calculate a $200 excise tax refund, I’ll only owe the government $800. Some people think it’s a deduction, but it’s not. It’s actually a credit. For companies it’s the same way. They’ll have a line on the corporate tax forms.

Read it here.

Dear friends:

Above is a link to an article in the Houston Chronicle Business Section this morning. The text of the message is below in case you have any problem opening the website. This is the first time I have spammed out a message. If you are not interested, please delete it and go on with your busy day. (However, I hope that you will at least file for the standard $50 credit on your 2006 income tax.)

I think that all of you know me personally, so this is not a scam message from a con artist saying that he/she is from another country and their FBI has millions of dollars for you. But millions of dollars will be available. Let me explain.

As you will see in the Chronicle article, the US federal government has ended the “war tax” on your telephone bill. Many of you who are “old (ie., honored) activists” refused to pay this tax during the Viet Nam war. The IRS now has the responsibility of returning a refund to those who paid this “surcharge” on their telephone bills from 2003 to now. At a minimum, you can fill for a standard refund and get $50. If you have your phone bills you can “itemize” and get a couple of
hundred dollars.

For all of us who used to say that we would prefer to pay our taxes to those organizations which promoted peace, community, and health; here is your chance. May I suggest that you file for your refund and then redirect it to your favorite non-profit organization.

May I also suggest that you do this in name of our friend, Wayne Vogel (Cerek). Many of you will remember Cerek from the Houston Food Coop, Pacifica Radio, and other community- based local peace organizations. Cerek was a local Houstonian. He was a gentle and effective promoter of change. He was one of my moral compasses (along with Thelma Meltzer). He authored a book, “Water flowing over Stone.” Later in his life, moved to Washington state to live a less complicated life on a small island, where the community grew and marketed garlic. He there died several years ago. He was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs A. F. Vogel; a brother, Allan; a wife, Betsy; a daughter, Rowan; and many loving friends.

So, why should we donate these refunds to your favorite charity in Cerek’s name? In the seventies, Cerek (who never drove a car) had his bicycle confiscated by the IRS for non-payment of this particular tax. Every month, Cerek would pay his phone bill minus the (very few) pennies that he owed for the “war tax.” I don’t remember the actual amount that was delinquent. I think it was less than $50 (perhaps one of you know the exact amount) and the war was almost at the end. This confiscation left Cerek without transportation for quite some time.

Now, I must apologize for taking up so much of your time and for any duplication in distributing this message (as I am working off several lists).. But I hope that you will file for your refund; consider donating it to a peace group; and take a minute to reflect on a life well lived. For those of you who were Cerek’s friends, what a
wonderful experience we shared in having this thoughtful and gentle man for a friend.

Peace and love to you all,
Eileen Harcher

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1 Response to War Tax Refund

  1. Tad says:

    I was at Village Books in Bellingham yesterday and I bought a copy of Cerek’s book “Water flowing over Stone.” The stories I have read so far are gorgeous. I am trying to learn more about this author. This blog is the only information I could find save a few links to buying more copies of his book. Any information about the man and his work would be most appreciated.
    I can be reached at thadiusk@hotmail.com

    thank you

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