Consider Itemizing Your Telephone Tax Refund

Reader Marie writes:

I found out about the telephone tax refund available on this years tax returns via Consumerist. Would you please encourage your readers to itemize their excise tax charges instead of taking the standard refund amount?

My family takes 3 exemptions, so our standard, no-questions-asked telephone tax refund is $50. The maximum standard refund, for families with 4 or more exemptions, is $60.

I just itemized my actual taxes paid using form 8913. Between our bundled long distance service land line, our two cell phones, and the interest owed us, we’re getting 106.15 back.

Please let everyone know about this. We certainly aren’t the only family of 3 who had a land line and two cell phone from March 2003 through July 2006.

Sure thing, Marie. Everyone, if you’ve got a bunch of phone lines, you might want to look into this option.—MEGHANN MARCO

2006 Form 8913 [PDF] [IRS]
(Photo: griff le riff)


Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    Yeah, I’m single and I think the standard refund for singles is $30. But since I’m a packrat (working on that), I had phone bills for the past 5 years. The credit is for taxes after 2/28/03, so I sat down, itemized everything, and got just over $100 back. It took a couple of hours, but for an extra $75, it was worth it.

  2. I also itemized, and instead of getting $30, I got $95 (my cell phone bill has been approx $100/month forever, so I was paying about $2.15/month for the tax)…

    Well worth it!

  3. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    I did this; my deductions are 0, so I’d have gotten nothing. I couldn’t get copies of my bills, (eff you AT&T -> Cingular -> at&t) but I knew it was at least a dollar a month, so that’s what I guessed.

  4. acambras says:


    It’s not a deduction — it’s a credit. So even if you take the standard deduction, you can still get a credit.

    That said, if you don’t have copies of the bills, you’re probably SOL. The IRS form even states that telephone companies are not required to provide you with extra copies of your bills. My guess is that most, if not all phone companies decided to refuse to provide extra bills because they would get a million requests this year (easier and cheaper to have a blanket “no” policy).

  5. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    If you’re someone who has them readily available and keeps excellent records, here’s your chance to get some benefit from that skill. I salute you, as for me the time/benefit equation doesn’t work out. I went standard.

  6. rbb says:

    On the other hand, if you have a barebones landline, use voip for long distance (they did not collect the tax) and do not use the cellphones for long distance, then the standard deduction will be more (at least in my case…)

  7. v2h5a81 says:

    Yeah I tried this was one of the best ideas, I was trying to get the information from, Cingular, but sadly they don’t give it up that easily. So here is a bit of information for people that haven’t done this (filed taxes) I would like to let you know that one of my friends did it through T-Mobile and he got all the information and all he had to do was transfer it over to the form. As far as he told me he had to insist a few but nothing more. So good luck to anyone that is hoping to this.

  8. The Bigger Unit says:

    Nice gut, lady.

  9. Krag says:

    The link for the 8913 is broken. Get it from the IRS at

  10. Ran Kailie says:

    I did the same thing, thank god for online billing and keeping old bills. I ended up wtih 89 bucks as a single person instead of the standard $30.

  11. saturn says:

    Sprint/Nextel earns major points. I cancelled my Sprint PCS service in 2004 and threw out my old bills. In order to calculate my credit, I requested copies, and they sent full reprints of two years of bills within a week.

  12. swartz3d says:

    The IRS sites an example of a $246 refund for a single, sole proprietor with less than $25k of gross receipts, $20 in local service, $50/month of personal long distance and $150/month of bundled service and cell phone.,,id=161506,00.html

    Check out — there’s a free 8913 “Wizard” there that will help you fill out the form very quickly and easily.