Tax Season: IRS Owes You $60 If You Own A Phone

The New York Times reports how our victory in the Spanish American War will save you $60 on this year’s taxes. Last year Congress realized that Cuba was no longer occupied by the Spanish Empire. The war, funded by a 3% tax on all long distance calls, is over. No more measly one or two dollar “Federal Excise Tax” on your monthly phone bill. With the empire unlikely to strike back, Congress decided to drop the tax and refund the excise taxes collected over the last three years.

Because most people do not keep phone bills for four years, the I.R.S. devised a formula: anyone who made long-distance calls would be entitled to a predetermined amount of up to $60, which would be calculated on the 2006 tax returns.

The credit is easy to get. It is claimed on Line 71 of Form 1040, Line 42 on the 1040A or Line 9 on the 1040-EZ. The cryptic description on all three forms is: “Credit for federal telephone excise tax paid. Attach Form 8913 if required.”

Yes, easy. Just hope the Spanish stay out of Cuba. If you want more than $60, Mr. Twist, the Times explains how to enjoy your Sunday with Form 8913. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Taking the Phone Credit: An Easy Way and a Hard Way [NYT]