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How to Claim Telephone Excise Tax Refund -- In Plain English

This page has easy-to-understand instructions on how to claim your Telephone Tax Refund. It is practical and sufficient for most people. If you need the full details, visit IRS's Qs & As for Individuals and Qs & As for Businesses and Tax-Exempt Organizations.

Step Zero: Determine Whether You Are Eligible to Claim the Telephone Tax Refund

If you answer Yes to the first and second questions below, and "No, I have not" to the third question, then you are eligible to claim the Telephone Tax Refund.

Q1: Did you have long distance or bundled service billed after Feb. 28, 2003, and before Aug. 1, 2006?

(Most people have either long distance or bundled service on their phones. Unless you specifically requested the phone company to remove long distance service, most likely you have it because it usually comes with your phone service.)

Q2: Did you pay ALL of the federal telephone excise taxes billed by your telephone service provider during the period mentioned in Q1?

Q3: Have you received or requested a refund or credit of the federal telephone excise tax from your telephone service provider?

Step One: Determine the refund amount

You can take a standard amount from $30 to $60 based on the number of exemptions you are claiming on their 2006 tax return.

  • 1 exemption: $30
  • 2 exemptions: $40
  • 3 exemptions: $50
  • 4 exemptions or more: $60

Add up the following to determine your exemptions:
1 for yourself, if you're not claimed by others as dependent,
1 for your spouse, if he/she is not claimed by others as dependent,
1 for each dependent you're eligible to claim.

(You can also request refund of actual amount of tax paid. But you'll need to spend time looking for up to 41 months of old phone bills and adding up the taxes. And it isn't necessarily more than the standard amount. So it may not be worth doing. Refer to IRS Web page mentioned earlier for further instruction on this method.)

Step Two: Write the amount you determined in Step One on ....

  • Line 71 of Form 1040,
  • Line 42 of Form 1040A,
  • Line 9of Form 1040EZ, or
  • Line 1a of 1040EZ-T (for individuals who are otherwise not required to file taxes.)

Here's an example of what the line would look like on a form 1040 for a person filing with one exemption:

If you have already filed your taxes and forgot to claim the telephone tax refund, you can use 1040X and one of the first three 1040 forms.

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. Individuals who wish to invest in retirement plans should contact their tax and financial advisors regarding their specific legal or tax situation.


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