So We’re Finally Done Paying for the Spanish-American War!

Lynne Kiesling

I’ve been complaining about this for so long, what will I do with myself … ? The long-reviled excise tax to pay for the Spanish-American War will finally be eliminated:

The Treasury Department, conceding that it has no right to continue collecting a 108-year-old tax on long-distance telephone calls, announced yesterday that it will drop its legal battle for the tax and instead refund about $13 billion to callers who have paid the tax in the past three years.

The 3 percent tax, enacted in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War and revised in 1965, has been declared illegal by five federal courts of appeal during the past year as the result of challenges brought by companies forced to pay it.

Gee, I wonder how much taxpayer money the Treasury Department has spent in legal and court prep time for those five challenges. Any chance we can get that back? Naaah, didn’t think so.


6 thoughts on “So We’re Finally Done Paying for the Spanish-American War!

  1. Lynne,

    I believe this is what is officially referred to in political circles as a “temporary tax”; a description now apparently ready to become “accurate”.

    One question someone should ask, at some point, is: “Why is the refund period only 3 years, since the tax has been collected for approximately 100 years beyond the period when the “temporary” need ended?” Another “pithy” (pissy?) question might be: “Why was the tax “revised” in 1965, when it should have been “intuitively obvious to the casual observer” (Sorry about that.) that the “temporary” need had long since ended?”

    The final question: “In the spirit of “revenue neutrality”, where will the ~$4.3 billion per year revenue loss resulting from this “tax cut for the rich” be made up?”

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