Legislation would end 107 years of “temporary” tax on talking

WASHINGTON – Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) introduced H.R. 1898 yesterday, which would repeal the 3% federal excise tax on telecommunications, a 107-year-old “temporary” tax enacted to fund the Spanish-American War.

While the Spanish-American War tax was originally billed as a luxury tax 1898, when only the wealthiest Americans had phones, the telephone is now a ubiquitous part of American life. The tax is therefore highly regressive, as it represents a greater share of the income of poorer Americans.

In 2000, the House of Representatives passed legislation repealing the Spanish-American War tax by a vote of 420-2, and both houses of Congress passed appropriations legislation including the repeal in the same year. President Bill Clinton, however, vetoed the legislation.

“Repealing the Spanish-American War tax is long overdue,” said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist. “We’ve been stealing money from telephone users for 107 years to fund a war it took us four months to win. Getting rid of this relic is a major priority of the taxpayer movement.”

H.R. 1898 was introduced in the House with a healthy 40 original cosponsors