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Feb. 2, 2007: IRS Offers Long-Distance Telephone Tax Refund

February 2, 2007
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WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that businesses that paid federal long-distance telephone excise taxes can request a refund on their 2006 federal income tax returns. This can be done by determining the actual amount of taxes paid or by using a formula that will allow businesses to estimate their federal telephone excise tax refunds.

“The formula will provide a less burdensome option than gathering up to 41 months of old phone records,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson.

To request a refund, businesses (including sole proprietors, corporations, and partnerships) must complete Form 8913, Credit for Federal Telephone Excise Tax Paid. To complete this form, businesses may determine the actual amount of refundable long-distance telephone excise taxes they paid for the 41 months from March 2003 through July 2006, or use the formula to figure their refunds. Businesses should attach Form 8913 to their regular 2006 income tax returns.

Businesses can figure their refund amounts by comparing two telephone bills from 2006 to determine the percentage of their telephone expenses attributable to the long-distance excise tax. The bills they should use are the bill with a statement date in April 2006 and the bill with a statement date in September 2006. They must first figure the telephone tax as a percentage of their April 2006 telephone bills (which included the excise tax for both local and long-distance service) and their September 2006 telephone bills (which only included the tax on local service). The difference between these two percentages should then be applied to the quarterly or annual telephone expenses to determine the amount of their refunds.

The refund is capped at 2 percent of the total telephone expenses for businesses with 250 or fewer employees - which covers more than 99 percent of all businesses. The refund is capped at 1 percent for those with more than 250 employees. Most organizations in this category typically are able to figure the actual amount they paid in long-distance excise tax. However, the formula provides a more limited, but simpler, approach for those large employers who wish to use it.

For example, if a business has an April 2006 telephone bill of $1,000, which includes federal telephone excise tax of $28, the tax percentage is 2.8 percent. If the September 2006 bill is $1,100 including federal telephone excise tax of $16.50, the tax percentage is 1.5 percent. The business’ long-distance excise tax percentage is 1.3 percent (2.8 percent for April minus 1.5 percent for September). The business multiplies 1.3 percent by its total phone expenses over the 41-month period to arrive at the amount of its refund. If this business had more than 250 employees, its refund would be limited to 1 percent of its total phone expenses for the period. If the business had 250 or fewer employees, the 2-percent cap would apply and would not limit the amount of the refund.

The IRS developed the formula after receiving public input and discussing the issue with business organizations and the Small Business Administration.

Details on the telephone tax refund are included in 2006 tax return materials.

Publication date: 01/29/2007

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