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Finances & Money

Cell phones qualify for telephone excise phone tax refund

From the IRS:

You may be one of the nearly 160 million phone customers who can request a refund of the 3% federal excise tax paid on long-distance and bundled phone service billed after Feb. 28, 2003 and before Aug. 1, 2006. Federal long-distance excise taxes paid on cell phone, land line, fax, Internet phone service and bundled service all qualify for the refund. Phone plans that provide both local and long-distance service for either a flat monthly fee (the charge for local service is not separately stated) or a charge that varies with the time for which the service is used are considered bundled services.

You can request the refund in one of two ways: Calculate the actual amount of tax you paid, as shown on your phone bills and other records, or request a standard amount, ranging from $30 to $60, based on the number of personal exemptions you claim.

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Clever Dude


  • Don’t settle for just $30-$60. The refund, with interest, is almost 1.5 times your average monthly pre-tax long distance and wireless usage. If you’re on a $79.99/month plan, you’ll get back almost $120. And for cell phones, you don’t necessarily need to have your bills handy. Check out and read the FAQ’s for more insight.

  • Hi,

    I read your recent article on the telephone excise tax and would like
    to point you to a website that may be of interest to your readers…

    The website explains, in great detail, the phone excise tax. There is
    an interactive timeline where you can learn about the tax and how it
    came to become part of American history in 1898.

    There are step-by-step instructions on how to get your full phone tax
    refund amount back as well (via the full-audit method).

    Businesses and non-profits can calculate their precise returns on the “Tell Your Boss” section of the web site. They can even download the forms, fill in the proper amounts, then print off the actual IRS 8913 form and file for a refund. Depending on phone usage, this could be tens of thousands of dollars.

    All of this information is provided for free. Our hope is that some
    people, who are able to, will contribute their phone excise tax to
    one of the worthwhile non-profits on the portal.

    We have celebrity endorsements on the site such as Martin Sheen,
    Larry Hagman (“JR”), Ed Begley Jr. and Nate Corddry (from the Daily
    Show) — along with 13 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates from the Dalai
    Lama to Bishop Tutu.

    For a PDF version of a recent Press Release that describes the launch of this public service web site please go to:

    If you’d like to learn more — please feel free to contact me
    directly at 203.387.7625 or email

    Kind Regards,

    Jonathan Gorham
    Refunds for Good
    Managing Partner

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