Our Telephone Taxes Pay for War!*
Every month, a great many of us who work for and dream of peace are unknowingly paying a little bit more for war and militarism. That's because every month when we pay our telephone bills, we are paying a 3% federal excise tax, most of which goes to the military. If you are looking for a strong, positive way to protest increasingly militaristic U.S. policies and actions, consider refusing to pay this monthly tax.
History of the Federal Telephone Tax
The federal excise tax itemized on our telephone bills has been associated with war throughout most of its long history. Imposed as a "temporary" tax by the War Tax Revenue Act of 1914, this tax has been used to help raise extra dollars for World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, as well as weapons of every conceivable kind. In 1990, the telephone tax became permanent and was set at 3%. While the legislative history of the act which changed the tax's status stated that the revenue raised would be used to fund child care, the simple fact is that all of this money will go into the General Fund, just as it always has. The majority of the money in the General Fund, including the telephone excise tax, will continue to help finance a global policy based on military might, weapons of mass destruction, and the expansion of militarism into outer space.
Telephone War Tax Resistance
The money raised by the telephone excise tax goes into the general federal budget. Over one-half of expenditures from this budget are used to pay for past and present military expenses as well as military plans for the future. While the federal tax on your monthly telephone bill is relatively small, this tax has raised nearly $30 billion since 1966. As more and more people refuse to pay this tax to protest government spending policies, we will be sending Washington an increasingly strong message that cannot be ignored, a message backed by action. Because the tax on each of us is small, our refusal to pay the phone tax, an act of civil disobedience, is relatively risk free. It would cost the federal government hundreds of dollars per person to try to collect these refused dollars from each of us. A likely consequence of becoming a telephone was tax resister is a feeling of satisfaction.
How To Refuse the Phone Tax
The federal excise tax is itemized on each telephone bill. To refuse this tax, simply deduct it from your total bill each month and pay the balance. A printed card, copies of which are available from NWTRCC, or a hand -written note should be included with the payment explaining that you are refusing to pay the federal excise tax. You may want to explain the reasons for your refusal to pay. Many people also send letters to their congresspersons and other public officials indicating the action they have taken. Generally, your phone company cannot legally disconnect your phone service for nonpayment of the tax and can even be subject to Federal Communications Commission action if it does. With the break-up of AT&T, however, some new companies may not yet be fully aware of their responsibilities. Other companies have established special billing accomodations for war tax resisters. Contact NWTRCC if you need help.
What To Do With Resisted Telephone Taxes
We can see the cost of increasing military spending in the world around us: hunger, inadequate housing, health care, public transportation, deteriorating urban areas, environmental problems, and more. Many of us have also seen the cost of our country's militarism to the people in other countries: death and destruction. Our resisted telephone taxes, although small amounts, can begin repairing the damage done here and around the world. Our telephone taxes can be redirected to help meet human needs in this country or elsewhere. When we refuse to give the tax to the government, we put the money to positive social use rather than keeping it ourselves. The choice of positive uses for these refused dollars is boundless. And although the individual amounts are small, the combined total from thousands of us is indeed a significant amount when it is used to work for peace and justice and meet human needs. By redirecting these taxes, we are able to make a positive statement about our priorities.
Statement of Telephone War Tax Refusal
I am enclosing payment of my ___________ telephone
bill in the amount of $ _________
I am refusing payment of the following amount of
federal excise tax because of conscientious
I anticipate that these unpaid taxes will be
reported to the Internal revenue Service, as required by law, and my
telephone account adjusted with an appropriate credit.
Signature_____________________________ Account Number _____________________