Personal Finance 23 Feb 2007 09:52 pm

Millions Forgetting Phone Tax Refund

by Sean Hackbarth

"Where's my refund?" picture

When the IRS lets you keep more of your money don’t be like the ten million who have filed already neglecting to get an easy thirty bucks minimum:

More than 10 million taxpayers who have filed their federal tax returns so far this year failed to claim the telephone excise tax refund, a one-time refund that’s worth up to $60, the IRS said Friday. And about half of those returns were filed by a tax preparer, the IRS said.

Last year, Treasury announced it would stop collecting the tax on long-distance service and would refund taxes billed from Feb. 28, 2003, to Aug. 1, 2006. The government decided to issue refunds after federal courts ruled the telephone excise tax was illegally applied to long-distance service.

Taxpayers who paid excise taxes on long-distance or “bundled” service have the option of claiming a standard amount, based on the number of personal exemptions on their tax returns, or the actual amount of taxes paid.

To claim the standard amount — which ranges from $30 to $60 — all taxpayers have to do is check a box on their tax return. But as of Feb. 16, about 30% of taxpayers who had filed didn’t claim the refund, the IRS says.

And IRS Commissioner Mark Everson says the IRS was surprised that many tax preparers failed to request the refund for their clients. “We want all taxpayers entitled to this refund to get it, whether they are using a tax preparer or doing the return themselves,” he said.

Make sure you check that box. You don’t need to have a mortgage, have kids, or any other loophole tucking away in the massive U.S. tax code. You just need to have paid for long distance (and the illegal tax). If you already filed you’ll need to file an amended return. Yes, it’s more paperwork, but it’s your money. Who would you rather trust with the cash, you or someone in Washington buying “Bridges to Nowhere?”

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